Why my wrist hurt when using computer for long hours

For those who work long hours at the PC or laptop need necessary computer wrist support – be it in the form of “gloves” , wrist pads, wrist rests, keyboard wrist support and all the other new ergonomic wrist support products that are available to us today to help avoid painful problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

We are always performing long tasks at the keyboard and for the most part without a healthy rest of our wrist. I bet you’re also one of us who simply sits in front of that screen typing away – either by working, chatting or playing games for hours at no end. One of the best thing I had bought is wrist rest and vertical mouse. It has greatly reduce my wrist pain when typing for long hours. You can check out more on vertical mouse to reduce wrist pain here.

My Wrist Hurt When Using Computer For Long Hours

It’s hard to really imagine what ‘severe’ means when I’m talking about wrist and thumb pain like this. So maybe this will illustrate how bad things got. One day just before I ended up at the doctor’s surgery, I was making a cup of tea and the tea bag slipped out of my grasp (as it turned out that was a common symptom that helped lead to my diagnosis). It was pure instinct to make a grab for it as it fell, but the pain I felt in doing so was so bad I ended up in tears. I missed catching it and ended up almost doubled over, wondering what on earth I’d done.

My wrist hurts and I don’t know why

This was frustrating. I hadn’t bent my thumb back or picked something up in a weird way; I knew I hadn’t broken it and it wasn’t really swollen either. I thought maybe I’d moved it in an odd way I’d forgotten about so I gave it a couple of weeks to see what happened.

During that time it kept waking me up at night. If I rolled over on it, it woke me up. If I bent my thumb or stretched in my sleep, it woke me up. The pain radiated out in the directions of the arrows in the above picture. But the worst of the pain was in the circled area. So I booked an appointment and went to see the doctor. She thought it was something I’d never heard of before – De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Yep, it’s a mouthful (and a handful too).

She suggested I refer myself to the local hospital for physiotherapy (I’m in the UK and our local area has a self referral system that works pretty well). So I did that and waited a few weeks for an appointment. The diagnosis was confirmed through a few simple movements (most of which were hard to do and excruciatingly painful).

Classic symptoms of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

If you have these symptoms it doesn’t automatically mean you have De Quervain’s. But it is a distinct possibility. If you ever get these symptoms go to your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get an official diagnosis the sooner you can get started on some physio, which can improve things a great deal.

  • Pain around the base of the affected thumb.
  • Inability to put your thumb up in an ‘OK’ gesture (imagine you’re hitchhiking) without severe pain.
  • Loss of grip in the affected hand.
  • Swelling around the base of the affected thumb.
  • A pinging feeling when you try and move the thumb (feels like you cannot move it at all, then it suddenly ‘pings’ and moves). It’s a bit like how a person acting like a robot might move, only a lot more painful.

The first step towards getting my thumb back to proper working order again

The first bit of advice I got from the physio was to get a thumb brace to fully immobilise my thumb. I was told to wear it virtually all the time for 6 weeks. Another classic sign that you have De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is that the pain increases as you do more with the affected wrist and thumb. If you rest it, it starts to feel a little better so you won’t constantly bug everyone else in your household with the cry “My wrist hurts!” every five minutes like I did.

The thing is you have to rest it for a long enough period to completely reduce any swelling in the affected area. So while it made typing difficult and slowed down my work a little, I knew how important my hands were to my job. So I persevered and wore the brace for the full 6 weeks. I just took it off when I had a bath or shower and every now and then if I felt a little hot. Even then I just took it off for around five minutes and then put it back on again.

I had the blue neoprene thumb support shown below and it worked wonders. Some of these are available in different sizes so make sure you measure up before you buy. Another good tip I will pass on is that I ended up buying two so I could put one in the wash while wearing the other one. Even if you don’t get sweaty hands you’d be surprised how mucky one of these can get given half the chance.

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