Chopstick Use May Lead to Aching Hands
Stress of Repetitive Chopstick Use Can Cause Osteoarthritis of the Hand
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 24, 2003 -- Never quite mastered the art of using
chopsticks? Don't fret; new research suggests that you may actually be doing
your hands a favor by sticking with a fork.
The study shows people who use chopsticks on a daily basis are
more likely to develop hand osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis
that is often due to excessive use of joints.
Researchers say using chopsticks places stress on particular
joints in the first, second, and third fingers, which may increase the risk of
osteoarthritis in these joints.
The results of the study were presented this week at the
American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Chopstick Use Stresses Hands
Researchers studied more than 2,500 Chinese adults with an
average age of 60 and asked them whether they were right-handed or left-handed
and which hand they preferred while eating with chopsticks or performing other
The participants also underwent hand X-rays to look for joint
damage due to osteoarthritis.
The study showed that osteoarthritis was more common in the
joints involved in chopstick use compared with non-chopstick joints.
In addition, participants who were ambidextrous (had no hand
preference in general) but had a preferred hand for chopstick use were more
likely to have osteoarthritis in that preferred hand. This suggests that the
osteoarthritis was due to chopstick use rather than other activities involving
The study also showed that 26% of the participants had evidence
of osteoarthritis in their thumb, and chopstick use accounted for 20% of the
risk of developing this in men and 37% in women.
"While the increase in risk associated with chopstick use
is small, this accounts for a large proportion of the osteoarthritis in these
joint groups," says researcher David Hunter, MD, assistant professor at
Boston University School of Medicine, in a news release.
Researchers say these findings are in line with previous
studies that have shown occupational groups exposed to repetitive use of small
hand joints also have higher than normal rates of hand osteoarthritis in those