modern technology: is it worth the pain?


wrist holding Wii controller

Modern technology:

Is it worth the pain?

Are you addicted to text messaging? Love playing Guitar Hero? Have a death grip on your computer mouse all day long? A show of hands is not needed, but take a few minutes to give them a rest.

One of the most common hand and wrist injuries is tendonitis. Forty-year-old Guitar Hero players are in deep denial if they think their wrists can take the same kind of exertion as their 9-year-old child’s wrists. You might feel a little bit silly doing some hand and wrist stretching exercises before you start playing, but if you enjoy the challenge and intend to beat the expert level, you’d better start.

Texting? Using a Blackberry? These are supposed to be fun, useful tools, right? Carey Clark III, MD, whose specialty is orthopedic surgery of the hand and upper extremities at Azalea Orthopedics, said thumb joints can become painfully inflamed from phone texting and keyboarding with a Blackberry-type computer. “You need to give your thumbs a complete rest from the activity," Dr. Clark recommended. "Take an anti-inflammatory, unless it is contraindicated, for seven to 10 days. If your thumbs aren’t feeling a lot better, you should see an orthopedic doctor.”

Wrist extension braces are helpful to relieve stress on that joint and minimize the impact on the wrist of using a keyboard and mouse. These braces also help relieve the discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome. Frequent stretching of the hands and wrists are helpful, too.

There are some who think the Nintendo® Wii™ qualifies as exercise. “I wouldn’t replace traditional exercise with using a Wii,” Dr. Clark said. “In fact, the motion needed to use a Wii properly is not the same natural motion you would use if you were, for example, bowling. That incomplete, jerking motion could set you up for muscle strain.” Though this ailment is just now getting attention, the best cure for the Wii arm is to stretch the arm, massage it, and put an ice pack on it to reduce the swelling and soreness.


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