Case Study: Wrist Pain

Overview

A lay-up operator at a wood products plant, told his boss he had pain in the left wrist at the ulno-carpal joint and up into the forearm. He had a past history of bilateral carpal tunnel release surgery approximately two years before with full recovery.
The pain started about seven weeks prior to our meeting with him and steadily got worse. The pain was focused in the wrist but radiated up his arm as it increased. He showed a decrease in grip strength on the affected side. His supervisor took him off of his regular job and had him doing clean up.

Solution

At our initial visit we went over proper stretching technique and started him on a routine of seven stretches targeting particular muscles in the forearm and hand.

Results

We saw him again in 10 days and he reported a 50% improvement in his pain and demonstrated an improved range of motion in wrist extension. We reviewed his stretches and made corrections on his form. We also started him on four active range-of-motion exercises at 8–10 repetitions each.

We then went out on the floor and observed him at his regular position on lay-up. There were ergonomic concerns with the

wrist pain

height of the work surface in relation to his height but no way to adjust without a major redesign of the line. His height caused him to have to bend over the work surface creating an extreme angle at his wrists. This was likely the root of the problem. The only solution here was to increase his flexibility and range of motion at the wrists.

Conclusion

We saw him again in two weeks and he was starting his third full-time shift back on his regular job and was having almost no pain in the wrist. He would get an occasional twinge but was able to use the stretches to take care of the pain. He was continuing with his stretches and exercises and showed significant improvement in his wrist ROM in all directions.