Repetitive motion. Whether you work at a construction site or blog for a living, you are at risk of developing repetitive motion disorder.
Work-related motions that are “repetitive” include typing at a keyboard, clicking a mouse, working on an assembly line, using a jackhammer, lifting heavy things, and any other activity where the body is strained by staying in one position or performing one activity for too long without breaks. Rigorous training in athletics can also result in a repetitive motion disorder – think swimming, golf or baseball. Your hands and wrists are capable of an amazing range of motion and are susceptible to repetitive motion disorders when we use them for prolonged periods of time to accomplish a small range of physical tasks.
Five of the most common repetitive motion disorders
- Tendonitis – the most common of repetitive motion disorders. Tendons connect muscles to bones. They are designed to stretch as we move, and they work perfectly most of the time. When a joint is overworked without allowing the tendon sufficient time to rest between periods of activity, the tendon can become inflamed. Further motion will make tendonitis worse.
- Bursitis – bursae are sacs that cushion the space between a bone and tendon. They reduce friction from movement by preventing bones from rubbing up against other hard tissues. Repetitive motion of a joint can cause the sac to become inflamed. This is bursitis.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – the injury we’ve all heard of when working at a computer –carpal tunnel syndrome refers to the inflammation of ligaments and tendons in the hand causing the median nerve to be pinched. Pain can radiate from the fingers to the elbow.
- Trigger finger – a kind of tendonitis that is also called stenosing tenosynovitis – is caused when the tendons in the finger or thumb cannot move smoothly and instead, gets stuck. This causes pain and stiff, contracted movement.
- DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis – pain in the wrist near the base of the thumb caused by an inflammation of the tendon that runs through the thumb. This can be exacerbated by unnecessary tension while performing a task. The tendon can rub against the nearby bones and lose the ability to move smoothly. The friction further increases swelling.
Although most of the repetitive motion disorders of the hand appear to be similar underneath the skin, treatment recommendations may vary depending on how you use your hands and how long you are able to rest them on a typical day. Surgery to correct a repetitive motion disorder is not normally needed; rest and therapy to strengthen muscles and tendons plus the development of good work habits usually helps eliminate the pain.
Your hands are among the most complex and vital structures in your body. When you have a problem with your hand, the right specialist can make all the difference between full recovery and a lifelong disability. Don’t risk the health and function of your hands – our nine board-certified hand surgeons and specialists at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder are ready to help. Our main office number is (410) 296-6232. Call for an appointment today or request an appointment online at one of our locations in the Greater Chesapeake area.