By Todd Turnbull, DC, CCSP
“My wrist and hand hurt. I spend all day working on computers and then I come home and spend more time on a computer, usually playing video games.” Health care providers hear this complaint with increasing frequency due to the increased use of computer finger pads and smartphones.
Using a computer finger pad requires making small, exact movements with the index finger. The repetitive strain of holding the finger in a pointing position, hovering just above the button in a “waiting to click” position, taxes what’s known as the extensor indicis muscle in the forearm. Over extended periods of time, the continual strain caused by repetitive finger hovering eventually leads to inflammation and swelling of the extensor tendon.
Treatment Your Chiropractor May Suggest
Effective correction involves reducing the guarded status of the injured muscle. Your chiropractor may apply a tolerable press-and-hold force into the proximal insertion of the extensor indicis muscle for 3-5 seconds will affect the Golgi tendon organ nerve fibers. This press-and-hold maneuver should result in reduced muscle tension and increased muscle power output.
Your DC also may perform pin-and-stretch manipulation into the muscle belly fibers to reduce adhesions and restrictions in the soft tissues. Post-treatment evaluation should note increased strength and range of motion, and decreased pain.
Stretch the index finger muscles by placing the palm up and creating maximum pain-free extension of the finger. Gently rotate the hand side to side to help unlock the most joint and muscle tension possible. Next, combine wrist flexion with full flexion of the index finger in a pain-free manner. Slowly rotate and flex the wrist / finger side to side to maximize reduction of tension.
Give the hand a 2-3 minute break for every 30 minutes of finger pad activity and perform the stretches above. Other helpful tips include using proper sitting posture, using forearm supports, and exploring alternative mouse, finger pad and keyboard options. Talk to your chiropractor for more information, particularly if you’re experiencing wrist and hand discomfort.