This button-centric world isn’t kind to our wrists.
The joints and muscles of the human body are fairly resilient, able to withstand pressure and stress from external factors without enduring permanent damage (usually). That said, as the saying goes with too much of a good thing, your body can’t endure infinite punishment, especially in the more sensitive spots like the joints. When a straw breaks the camel’s back, you may find yourself with a repetitive stress injury.
A repetitive stress injury, also known as a repetitive strain injury, is the result of a buildup of damage caused by repeating motions to your muscles, joints, tendons, and so on. While this kind of injury can technically happen in any part of the body, the most common spots are in the wrist and elbow, often arising from stuff like overusing a smartphone or holding your hands and limbs at weird angles. This leads to conditions like carpal tunnel, bursitis, and tennis elbow.
Typical symptoms of an RSI include pain, stiffness, swelling, and numbness. The pain is frustrating enough, but it’s even worse when the pain prevents you from moving your hands the way you want to. If you think you’ve got an RSI, start by employing the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Give the affected spot a break, put some ice and a compress on it, and raise it up. In the meantime, use your other hand, or if you’re using electronics, try using accessibility features like voice commands. You can also try an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, such as pain medication or topical ointments. With any luck, some rest and smelly ointment will have you back to normal, but if the pain persists or worsens, you may have a more serious injury. Your doctor may recommend a physical therapist, a splint, or a steroid injection.