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Arthritis Health Center

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How to Handle High-Tech Hand Injuries

Experts explain how to avoid hand problems that may be related to using some of our favorite gadgets.

Stretching Exercises

The ASHT also recommends stretching exercises that may help stave off repetitive motion injuries or alleviate early symptoms. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds and repeat each eight times.

  • Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body as you extend your arms forward. You should feel a gentle stretch all the way from your shoulders to your fingers.
  • Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms over your head. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and from your shoulders to your hands.
  • Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend the hand on the outstretched arm down toward the floor. Then turn the palm up and stretch the hand up toward your body. This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles.
  • Open the hands and spread the fingers as far as possible.

Joy C. MacDermid, a physiotherapist and epidemiologist who is also the secretary-treasurer for the ASHT, advises people to remember that psychological stress brought on by conflict at work or home also contributes to the type of strain that brings on BlackBerry thumb.

"It's hard to isolate the BlackBerry as the cause of these problems," MacDermid says. "Other sources of stress contribute. Do you dislike your supervisor? Do you encounter rudeness at work? Rudeness causes stress. People under stress have tense muscles, and their levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) tend to rise. That has to contribute to muscular problems. We try to separate physical and psychological health, but the connection is stronger that we realize."

One surefire way to prevent BlackBerry thumb, she says, is to rest.

"Shut it off once in a while," MacDermid says. "People don't seem to realize there's an off button."

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