Hesperian Health Guides
Repeating the Same Movement Over and Over
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Joints are places in the body where bones come together. At these joints tendons connect the bones to muscle. If you repeat the same movement over and over while working, the tendon can be damaged. Injuries to the wrists and elbows are common with farming and factory work. Injuries to the knees are common among domestic workers (‘house-maid’s knee’), miners, and other workers who kneel for a long time.
- Pain and tingling in the part of your body that repeats the movement.
- A grating feeling when you place your hand over the joint and move it.
- Rest the joint in a comfortable position as much as possible. If you must continue to use that joint as you work, wear a splint to keep it as still as possible. Try some of the ideas below in the prevention section.
- Make a soft splint by wrapping the joint with cloths so it does not move. Wrapping the cloth around a thin piece of wood first can help keep the joint straight. The cloths should be wrapped tightly enough to keep the joint from moving, but not so tightly that the blood flow is blocked or the area gets numb. Wear the splint while you work, and also while you rest or sleep.
- If the joint is painful or swollen, take aspirin or use one of the pain medicines that reduce inflammation. Hot, moist cloth compresses can also help decrease pain and swelling.
- If the joint does not get better after 6 months, get medical help. You may need to have medicine carefully injected into the joint, or you may need an operation.
If a joint is red or hot, it might be infected. See a health worker right away.
- If it is safe, switch hands or body positions as you work. Try to work in a way that bends the joint less and puts less pressure on it.
- Try to exercise the joint every hour, by moving it through all of the motions it can make. This will stretch and strengthen the tendons and muscles. If exercise causes pain, move the joint slowly and gently.