By Megan Burkdoll, OT
In the midst of this pandemic, have you transitioned from your work office to your work-at-home office? Did you feel prepared for this transition, or are you still trying to get comfortable in your home office?
As the months tick by, maybe you have started to notice the toll that your new workstation has taken on your body. The once tiny twinge of pain in your elbows has since turned into a nagging pain or near constant “funny bone” sensation. Maybe that pain in your elbows and wrists has led to a tingling in your fingers.
These sensations are not something that you should let linger and grow. Instead, these sensations are red flags from your body that are begging you to make a change. Your body is made of a network of nerves that send information about your environment to the brain. These nerves branch from the spinal cord and can become entrapped, causing damage over time. As symptoms progress, you may start to notice numbness, tingling, and weakness that make it difficult to perform work, household chores, or leisure activities. You may become hesitant to participate in activities due to fear of dropping items from your hands.
Nerves can become irritated or undergo damage by repetitive movements, sustained positions, trauma, tight muscles, scar tissue, or swelling. These symptoms are common with conditions known as carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome.
Repetitive use may include activities such as frequent typing or lifting. Resting your arms on the edge of the desk or sleeping with the elbows bent are two common examples of sustained positioning, which often lead to nerve irritation.
Although we commonly associate carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome with people who spend a significant amount of time at a desk, many highly active people are also at risk for developing these conditions. We also see these conditions in nurses, hair stylists, mechanics, gym buffs, or even the new mom who experienced increased swelling in her hands during pregnancy.
If you notice signs of pain, numbness, tingling, or changes in the temperature of your fingers, it is best to seek treatment early. Early intervention or “conservative management” may reverse symptoms and eliminate need for a surgical approach.
Tulsa Bone and Joint has a team of Occupational Therapists on site at both the Tulsa and Owasso locations. Our occupational therapy team will perform a detailed assessment that takes into account your lifestyle, habits, routines, and your personal goals. They address your personal factors, analyze your activities, and provide a uniquely targeted program of activity modifications, ergonomic adjustments, and exercises for symptom management. As always, we continue to serve with excellence and are determined to keep moving life forward!
If you are interested in scheduling an evaluation with our occupational therapy team, give us a call at 918-392-1552.