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#1 fishpond  Icon User is offline

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Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 13 November 2016 - 01:58 AM

I've never had any physical problems in my life but recently my wrists have been really aching and in pain. This happens when I turn my wrist and when I lift things. I've switched to Microsoft's Sculpt ergonomic keyboard for 3 weeks now and even though my arms and hands feel less tired at the end of the day, my wrists are still in pain.

I haven't seen a doctor in a decade so I'm kind of lost on where I should go. Has anyone else had this problem? Where should I go to get my wrists examined and fixed?

Thanks

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#2 andrewsw  Icon User is offline

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:09 AM

Register with a Doctor.

At work I was required to watch a set of HR videos, H&S including posture, seating position, arranging your desk, gentle exercises, etc. This information is widely available. An example search would be "health and safety at work for computer users", although your employer should be involved as well.
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#3 fishpond  Icon User is offline

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:33 PM

I never thought of proper seating position as important before. I guess I've always had a "It'll never happen to me attitude".

Now look at me... I'm practically disabled...We need more awareness of the dangers of improper sitting positions. I don't want anyone else to turn out like me...
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#4 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 13 November 2016 - 05:44 PM

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It's something that I bang on about from time to time... mostly people don't listen until they actually hurt themselves.

The main thing is posture: your back should be upright (don't lean on the back of your chair, center the weight of your head over your spine) your monitor should be at eye level, and your keyboard should be at elbow level. Use a wrist rest so you don't have to support the weight of your forearms. If you do these things, you'll have minimized the amount of muscular effort required in your basic resting posture, which will spare you a lot of trouble. A good keyboard is essential - for a professional programmer, there's no sense using anything but a good mechanical, such as a Das or a WASD, to minimize the exertion and the impact of typing.
It's very important here that your wrists not be bent when you're typing - the tendons that move your fingers are controlled by muscles in your forearms, and you want them to have a straight-line pull to do their work. Friction is a bad thing in this case.

The next thing is to get up and stretch from time to time, or at least stand up and walk around about every hour or so. Smokers have an advantage here, since they typically go outside once in a while and get some fresh air. If you're not a smoker, find another way to build breaks into your day. For example, drink a lot of water, or simply set a timer and obey it. What you're looking for is to unlock your upper back and shoulders, which typically will tighten up over the course of a day at the keyboard.
Simple unobtrusive stretches like rolling your shoulders forwards and back a few times, or bringing your arms across your chest so that your elbows come together (your hands will be at opposing shoulders) will do a lot to relieve this tension.
The reason this is important is that muscular tension in the shoulders and back will make it harder to do fine motor control tasks (such as typing) with your hands and fingers. Over the long term this can manifest as pain in the forearms and wrists.

It will also help to eliminate as much as possible the use of the mouse. Ideally, you should use the keyboard for everything if at all possible, and if you need a pointer device, use a trackball or a trackpad. The reason for this is not hard to understand: hold out your arm with the upper arm at about a 45 degree angle from your shoulder, and your forearm parallel to the ground. Now move your hand in a circle for a minute or two and notice the sense of tension up and down your arm, particularly near the shoulder - this tension is what you're experiencing every time you use your mouse to do work. Since we're trying to reduce tension, this means that the use of the mouse is inconsistent with long-term health for a programmer.

Since you're already experiencing pain in your hands, I suggest a few things. First of all, remedy your posture - don't just follow my advice, but do your own research and figure out what works for you. Also, if you're not doing so already, try incorporating some simple yoga into your daily routine. Don't bother with the lifestyle yoga (classes, buying equipment, and so forth), just learn a few basic standing poses and practice them in the morning. What you want here is to start out the day relaxing and thinking about posture and balance, and spending a minute or two on one leg thinking about your breath will help with this.
It probably wouldn't hurt to do some gentle upper-body exercise as well - push-ups, kettlebells, situps, that sort of thing. I'm not talking about going into training for a prizefight, just adding enough to your morning routine to help you get limbered up in the morning.

Having done that, it would be worth while to see a licensed massage therapist. This will feel good, and it'll provide some relief from the symptoms, and these folks usually have a really good understanding of the body and how it fits together, so they'll be able to help you figure out what to do to get back to full function. As a quick diagnostic, if their advice involves spending money (classes, acupuncture, "healing essences", etc) it's probably not what you're looking for. What you want is not something you can buy, it's a change in the way you do things.

Finally, if the pain you're feeling is accompanied by numbness or tingling in your fingers, this is a very strong sign that you're dealing with something that's worth taking seriously. I suggest getting advice from someone who isn't just a random person on the web.
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#5 Sirius80  Icon User is offline

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 14 November 2016 - 02:40 AM

Great reply from above.
I'd go to see a doctor and get a referral to a physiotherapist who will give you exercises to do, but get it done sooner rather than later, these things don't just go on their own.
Good luck.
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#6 Skydiver  Icon User is online

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 15 November 2016 - 12:57 PM

I went from the straight keyboard to the MS Ergonomic keyboard and that gave me relief for about 2 years, and then more issues came up as work and life stress levels went up. At that point, I switched to using the Dvorak layout and it made a world of a difference. 5 years later I'm still doing great -- except when I'm at a public kiosk to pickup tickets, or if I'm doing a job interview, and I have to hunt and peck on their QWERTY keyboard because they won't let me plug in my QIDO.
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#7 Skydiver  Icon User is online

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 15 November 2016 - 01:04 PM

I also second the massage therapist advice. If you work in area that has a lot of tech workers, they will be fully aware of the aches and pains that plague us. The exercises, stretches, and reminders for posture did wonders for my back and shoulders.
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#8 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 15 November 2016 - 05:41 PM

View PostSkydiver, on 15 November 2016 - 02:57 PM, said:

MS Ergonomic keyboard


Second this. I demand these from work. Mine currently looks like a das keyboard, as I've worn off the letters on most of the keys.

Something to avoid, I think, are those sling chair things. e.g. the iconic and ubiquitous Herman Miller Aeron. If you can't plant your ass and align your spine, you will get hurt. Note, such office chairs are probably fine for your power paper pushers, but a keyboard mashing coder has different requirements.

Also, take a break. Ideally about 10 minutes off for every 50 minutes on. Get up, walk around, move. Even if it's just a stand, stretch, twitch, ass must leave chair at least once an hour. My office seems to collect chairs, including stationary cushioned arm chair. Just sitting in the cushy chair and meditating for five minutes helps immensely. Note, to properly mediate you must align your spine and relax your entire body, which is the habit you want to be in play unconsciously when you're working.
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#9 fishpond  Icon User is offline

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 18 November 2016 - 05:37 PM

Just a quick update.

I started using the pull out keyboard tray at my desk. I tilted it at a 30 degree angle. That in combination with MS Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard and constant awareness of my hand placement, the pain in my wrist has decreased.

Hopefully in another month or so the pain will go away completely.

Thanks for everyones replies.

Brandon
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#10 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Where should I go to fix my wrists?

Posted 18 November 2016 - 07:33 PM

Great to hear - hope things work out.
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