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Is the pain due to excessive computer use?

Q: I'm a Computer professional. From the last 2 weeks, I've developed a problem with my right arm. Often my right arm becomes senseless for a brief period and I cannot do anything during that period with my right arm (fingers). I've consulted a local Orthopaedician and he suggested some neck muscle exercises and prescribed a nerve stimulator. I've no other complaint like arthritis, spondylitis, etc. The exercises are helping me to recover a bit. Will physical exercises (neck muscle) help?

A:You have written about pain in your fingers without specifying whether pain is there in all fingers or some. It is important to know the exact distribution of the pain to arrive at a diagnosis. In computer professionals who are constantly operating the key board, it is possible to have what is commonly called a chronic injury syndrome with pain in the fingers of the hand/radiating pain in the forearm and arm. Constant sitting posture with the neck bent down further compounds this with pain referred from the neck. If the predominant part of the pain is because of neck then neck exercises will help. However, if the pain is because of other reasons you will need to be carefully assessed, a diagnosis made and only then treatment started. The conditions that could occur in chronic injury syndrome are as some of the following:

  • Shoulder pain - fibromyalgia in shoulder muscles
  • Elbow pain - tennis elbow, golfers elbow
  • Wrist pain - deQuervains disease, ulnar styloiditis
  • Wrist and hand pain - thumb, index and middle fingers - carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Little finger and ring finger - ulnar nerve neuritis.
  • Finger joint pains - usually linked to tenosynovitis, trigger fingers. This is a simple list given in a semi-medical language but this is not exhaustive nor have I given all the details. I have listed this only to give you a sample of possibilities.

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