Harness Your Pain

Fall is here! Which brings with it a season of harvest, perennial planting, and lawn and garden cleanup before the colder weather hits.

These Autumn activities can be physically demanding—or even hazardous—when done in repetition or with poor technique. This may lead to pain or discomfort in your shoulder, wrist or hand.

Common mistakes of Fall gardening:

  1. Forgeting to take breaks
  2. Remaining in one position for too long causing sore muscles and joints
  3. Holding a firm grip with a bent wrist
  4. Carrying/lifting too heavy a load

Safe gardening tips:

  1. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a break
  2. Vary your positions often (e.g. ½ kneel, full kneel, use of a garden stool, in standing, use a hoe/rake/shovel)
  3. Lighten your grip on weeds, tools, plants, veggies and keep the wrist straight
  4. Use a wheelbarrow, two-person carry, or cart/dolly

By following these simple guidelines, you can lower your risk of injury to the upper extremity. However, if you do experience ongoing pain, it is important to see someone who specializes in conditions of the hand, arm, or shoulder. A certified hand therapist is able to assess the entire upper extremity, from your shoulder to your finger tips. Hand therapists are highly educated and have a thorough understanding of the upper extremity. During your evaluation you should discuss your symptoms with the therapist and working together with your doctor to develop a treatment plan.

After an evaluation you may receive hands on therapy, education on posture, adaptations for daily living skills and a home exercises program. If needed and necessary a custom orthotic could be molded to improve your function and decrease pain.

Mettler Hand Clinic offers a free 30-minute consultation with a certified hand therapist to discuss your pain and develop a plan to address it.