HandJust PostedStaying Pain-Free During Covid-19


Our hands are definitely some of the most specialized parts of our bodies, and injury or disability in that area puts us at great disadvantage. So, I’ll start with my hand mantra:

  • Don’t be so grabby. That’s right. When you spread your hand out wide to grab something heavy and large, you stress the delicate structures in your hand quite a bit, especially if you have a delicate little hand or it’s an older hand. Limit the grabbing of big books, big milk cartons, jar lids and other large heavy objects. Use the internet, get smaller milk cartons, use jar openers (or men) and lift lighter loads.
  • And again, R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation) if you’ve injured yourself.
  • Most pharmacies and grocery stores carry wrist braces and aluminum splints. Use them if you’ve sprained, or think you might have broken something.
  • Numbness in your hand at night? Might be carpal tunnel syndrome, if it’s your thumb, index or middle fingers. Wear a wrist brace to bed. If the tingling is in your pinky, avoid leaning on chair arms and car consoles. Try to sleep with your arms at your sides, rather than flexed up at the elbow, where it compresses the funny bone (ulnar) nerve at your elbow. Don’t read in bed!
  • Are one or more of your fingers locking in a bent position? Could be a trigger finger. Put an aluminum splint around the middle knuckle, to keep it from bending to the point that it locks. If you can take an NSAID like Aleve or Advil, give it a try for a few days, and see if the locking (triggering) goes away. Eventually, you might need an injection, or maybe even surgery, but this might help temporarily. If you catch it early, it might go away!
  • Hands are perfect areas to try out the old saying, “if it hurts, don’t do it.” Give painful, repetitive activities a rest.
  • Try using an electric toothbrush rather than a traditional one. Better for your teeth as well as your hands, because you don’t have to grab it to get the tooth-cleaning results.
  • Try holding the steering wheel of your car down low, at the 4:00 and 8:00 positions rather than 2:00 and 10:00. It will keep you from grabbing tight, with the thumb hyper-extended.
  • If you’ve started a weight lifting program, avoid grabbing the dumbbells with a death grip. It will help prevent tendonitis and repetitive strain injuries. Wear weight lifting gloves.
  • Hit your fingernail with a hammer and have a throbbing hematoma under the nail? Yes, you can wash your hand, then burn the tip of a paper clip with a match, until it’s red hot, and stick it through the nail right over the middle of that hematoma. I’ve done it! It works. If you don’t, there’s a chance you’ll end up in the ER, because it will hurt like hell later on, and then the paper clip thing won’t work because the blood will be clotted. And you may as well not go to the ER anyway, because they won’t give you narcotics for a painful nail hematoma. You can take ibuprofen from the comfort of your own home.
  • Jam your finger and the tip of it won’t straighten out. That might be a mallet finger. Get an aluminum splint and splint it straight.
  • If there is obvious deformity, crunching, grinding, something sticking out of the skin, numbness, or blueness, or severe, painful swelling, you will likely have to go to the ER. But if it’s not that bad, then splint/brace it and do #3, until you can see your primary care doc, get a telemedicine visit or go see your favorite orthopod.
  1. Karen

    What about painful finger cramping? It usually happens later in the day, with cramps leading to usually one finger, sometimes more, locking in straight position. Several times lately is has occurred after shuffling a deck of cards or peeling vegetables.

    Coincidentally, my husband has recently experienced hand cramping too. We both have been using our hands in more strenuous ways as we are gardening more. Both of us are cyclists but that activity has never before been associated with this

  2. Linda Thompson

    As always Dr. Bergin, you have the best advice.

    Sitting dining room table at computer for longer lengths of time (try to limit sessions) Have a post-it with S.L.A.M. as a reminder. Also doing some chin/neck exercises, as on phone too much with my head bent forward and down. Try to remember to hold the phone at eye level, but easier said than done. Saw on news that people are starting to develop something like a bone spur at the base of the back of the neck. Oh my! Adaptation of the species.

    On a previous blog, you recommended to use an oversized pillow (even a pet bed) while watching TV on the couch, as helps with knee and hip pain upon standing. Purchased two about six months ago. Both husband and I use ever night without fail, and has eliminated the pain. Thank you so much for that piece of sage advice. You are the best! Hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

    1. Barbara

      So glad you are following my recommendations! As you know, many of them have undergone an extensive trial…of one…me! But it works…for me anyway! And when it does, I pass it on!
      Thanks for being my reader and patient!

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