Hands & Wrists

Smartphones and Impaired Hand Function

Do you use your smartphone a lot? Have you noticed pain in your hands, specifically your thumb, after a long browsing or texting session? If you have, it’s probably not your imagination. A Turkish study published in June of last year, followed 102 university students–comparing 66 single hand-held smartphone users to 36 students who don’t use them–and concluded that frequent smartphone use may lead to an enlarged median nerve, and impaired hand function (particularly pinch strength).

According to an article published in Medscape about the study:

A hand-held smartphone compels the user to engage in repetitive flexion/extension of the wrist and to use their thumb to text, movements that are involved in the etio-pathophysiology of CTS, the researchers note.

The issue is of increasing importance as more young people use smartphones and other hand-held devices. Research suggests that students now typically spend more than 3 hours a day texting, emailing, scheduling, and browsing the Internet on their mobile phone.

According to Dr. Michael Bollinger, there is a connection to be made between overuse of handheld devices and repetitive use injuries in the hand and wrist:

“The devices, themselves, aren’t the problem.  It’s the usage time.  If you’re spending three to four hours per day browsing or texting on your phone, repeating the same hand and wrist movements over and over, chances are pretty high that you are putting considerable strain on the tendons in your fingers, wrist and thumb.” said Bollinger.  “What feels like discomfort now may lead to more serious problems later and the need for medical intervention.”

Dr. Bollinger noted that while the best way to avoid injury from overuse of handheld devices is to lessen usage, regular stretching of the hands and wrists and periodic icing of inflamed areas may also help lessen pain.

Smartphones […]

Osteoarthritis: Causes and Treatments

As we age, our bodies may not recover as quickly from strenuous activity or long periods spent sitting or standing in a single position. On those occasions, some people may feel stiffness or discomfort, but it usually passes in time. If you’re feeling chronic pain in your joints, hands, hip, knee, lower back or neck, however, you may be suffering from a condition called osteoarthritis (OA).

Causes and Risk Factors

According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis is a disease of the joint, and is the result of a variety of factors – some that can be controlled and some that can’t.

Osteoarthritis generally occurs when there is an absence of cartilage, the important connective tissue that cushions the bones in our joints. When that cushion is removed, bones meet, causing pain, stiffness, swelling and reduced mobility. While it is a rare, some patients’ bodies do not produce an adequate amount of collagen, the protein that creates cartilage. Other patients may have a bone structure that breaks down their cartilage cushion more quickly.

Those factors are generally hereditary and not preventable. Other factors, however, can be managed to help prevent OA from occurring.  For example, being overweight or participating in activities that encourage repetitive movements, can increase a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis.  The Arthritis Foundation explains:

Weight: Being overweight puts additional pressure on hips and knees. Many years of carrying extra pounds can cause the cartilage that cushions joints to break down faster. Research has shown there is a link between being overweight and having an increased risk of osteoarthritis in the hands. These studies suggest that excess fat tissue produces inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) that can damage the joints.

Injury and overuse: Repetitive movements or injuries to joints (such as a fracture, […]

Using Diet to Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

In recent years, you may have heard discussions or read articles about “inflammation” in the body and its connection to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. “Inflammation” is a real issue for many of our patients, especially those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, a condition we see quite frequently where the patient’s overactive immune system is attacking his or her joints, causing pain. Anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing medications can and are often used to treat such conditions. However, a patient’s diet can also play a part in reducing inflammation in the body.

A growing number of nutritional and medical experts suggest that a body’s autoimmunity problems are caused by tiny holes in the gut that allow particles of food, bacteria and other substances from inside the intestines to escape into the rest of the body. This is important because a “leaky gut”, and more specifically, an invasion of foreign substances into the body, can trigger the body to respond by producing inflammation – the same process used to fight any other bacterial infection. Over time, that chronic inflammation can cause tissue damage, resulting in an autoimmune disease such as the ones listed above.

Enter the Paleo autoimmune protocol (a stricter version of the more popular Paleo Diet). The Paleo autoimmune protocol seeks to seal the holes in the gut wall by eliminating the foods thought to cause them, namely:

Processed, fried and high fat foods (especially those that contain high amounts of salt, preservatives, additives, or sugar)
Alcohol
Breads & Grains (including whole and heritage grains)
Potatoes
Legumes
Dairy
Eggs
Nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers
Nuts and seeds
Certain spices such as curries, paprika and chili powder
Refined sugar

Those who follow this protocol typically eliminate the trigger foods mentioned above for […]

Beware of Herbal Supplements if You’re Having Surgery

It’s not unusual to see patients in our practice taking herbal supplements.  We don’t weigh in one way or another on the efficacy of “natural” vitamins and supplements but we do caution our patients who are considering having a surgical procedure done against taking them prior to and after their surgery.

While every patient experience is different, what many may not realize is that these supplements may cause abnormal blood pressure, heart rates, and bleeding.  They may also interfere with other medications, including anesthesia during your surgery.

We generally recommend to our patients that they disclose any “over-the-counter” medication they are taking (including aspirin, herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements) to their physician.  We also ask patients to stop taking them one week prior to surgery to reduce their risk of excessive bleeding, or negative interactions with other medications that we prescribe to treat orthopaedic problems and manage pain.

Not sure if your supplement may be a problem?  Here’s a list of common herbal supplements that we recommend against:

  Dong Quai
  Gingko Biloba
  Ginger
  Ginseng
  White Willow Bark (salix alba)
  Devil’s Claw (harpagophytum procumbens)
  Turmeric (curcuma longa)
  Boswellia (bosellia serrata)
  Stinging Nettle (urtica dioica)
  Cat’s Claw (uncaria tomentosa)
  Quercetin
  Reservatrol
  Cayenne
  Omega-3 FA
  St. John’s Wort

If you’re a patient and have questions about how a supplement you may be taking may interact with your prescribed medication, please contact our office.