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Monday, April 28, 2014

Aching Wrists? Ergonomic Changes Can Help

Florida Rheumatologist and Immunologist Dr. Guillermo Valenzuela Offers Advice on Turning Your Office Into a Pain-Free Zone

Your hands ache and tingle, your back has shooting pain, your wrists hurt and your elbows feel as if you could not lift them any higher. If this sounds like you after a day of work, then you could be experiencing ergonomic issues that are keeping you from working at your best.
“When we work, there is often a divide between how we move and how our bodies are meant to move,” says Guillermo Valenzuela, M.D., F.A.C.R., a Florida-based rheumatologist and immunologist with Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists in Plantation, Fla. “This can lead to many rheumatology concerns, including arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.”
While your carpal tunnel is not one you can actually drive through, the tunnel is a passageway that houses nerves and tendons. If this passageway becomes inflamed from overuse or excess wear and tear, you experience tingling, numbness and/or pain in your fingers, especially the first three fingers.
Although Dr. Valenzuela offers treatments to restore function and reduce pain in your wrists, he also says that prevention is truly the best first-line resource against carpal tunnel. Also keep in mind that ergonomic issues are just one contributing factor to carpal tunnel -- arthritis, inflammatory conditions and metabolic diseases can also cause the condition.
While “Take Dr. Valenzela to Work Today” is not a holiday, he does offer advice to his patients concerning the appropriate settings for your work chair, positioning for your keyboard and height of your work screen. Whether you realize it or not, each of these aspects play a part in your hand and wrist pain. Take Dr. Valenzuela’s tips for an office makeover that doesn’t require painting or major furniture purchases (unless, of course, you want to make them).
Watch How You Mouse
Does stress have you keeping a death grip on your mouse? Lighten up, and you’ll also lighten up your wrist pain. As you work, look at where you are moving your mouse from. Instead of moving your wrist back and forth, focus on moving your forearm from your elbow instead. Keeping your wrist in a neutral and straight position can help prevent discomfort.
In terms of tools, a mouse that is symmetrical, or rounded on all sides, is preferable to a curved mouse that puts your hand and wrist in an awkward position. If possible, place the mouse on a slightly angled surface to the side of your keyboard. The worst positioning is the most common one -- with the mouse flat on a surface to your keyboard’s side.
Put Your Keyboard In Its Place
Keyboards that cause you to angle your forearms upward put extra strain on your wrist and elbows. This creates what seems like an open invitation for wrist aches and pains. A better position is a neutral or even slightly downward option. This takes the pressure off your wrists and allows your arms to rest more comfortably at your sides.
Take a Break and Stretch
Dr. Valenzuela consistently sees professionals from all fields who are constantly using their hands for typing or with tools, yet never take a break throughout a long work day. Giving your wrists a break -- even if just for 30 seconds to a minute -- can make a big difference between wrist discomfort and a pain-free work day.  
Seek Help When Needed
Dr. Valenzuela has helped countless patients from all around the world find relief from carpal tunnel, arthritis and osteoporosis, particularly complicated cases where patients have not found relief with other interventions. His office is home to state-of-the-art imaging technology, and he and his team are constantly performing clinical trials researching new treatments. 
“When patients feel like they have tried everything to resolve their symptoms, but the pain continues, it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment,” Dr. Valenzuela says. “So many patients live with the pain or brush it aside when I could be helping them finally find relief.”
Dr. Valenzuela practices at Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists in Plantation, Florida. For more information or to make an appointment, please call (954) 476-2338. You can also visit his website at Dr. Valenzuela regularly updates his Twitter account with useful tips. Follow him at @Dr_ValenzuelaMD to learn more.