August 23, 2007 8:13 AM   Subscribe

My hands hurt.

I've been kayaking a lot this summer, and probably gripping my paddle shaft too tightly.

And my hands -- or more precisely my fingers -- have been sore and tender. Like I can't make a tight fist or a firm handshake. Its a dull and unchanging soreness and tightness, not a shooting or burning pain, and its in the fingers, the joints and the pad of the palm rather than the wrist.

Any suggestions or thoughts about how to address both the short-term need for relief and longer term need to avoid recurrence? (Besides loosen up your grip, which I'm trying to do.) Analgesics help a little but not huge. The mentholated cremes like Ben-Gay just smell bad. Is this what arthritis feels like?
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sounds more like tendonitus or strained ligaments to me. Remember that you actually have very few muscles in your hand. They are mainly in your forearm and operate through tendons, which can be stressed just like the cables on a bridge by holding them taut for too long.

I think you might try different sized paddles, a larger or smaller shaft on the paddle might give a better grip without the strain. For the short term, you need to rest them and you also need some anti-inflamitories.
posted by slavlin at 8:35 AM on August 23, 2007

Best answer: IANAD-there, got that out of the way.

I'd say if you have insurance, a trip to your doctor may be a good idea. If you're having a constant ache, even days after your last kayak trip, then I'd be worried that you have some permanent damage to your hands. A few x-rays could either confirm that or set you mind at ease. And a shot of a cortisone could ease the soreness for you.

I have Rheumatoid arthritis, and I'd describe my hands the same way you do. I hope you don't have that, but it's a disease that needs to get diagnosed fast to avoid permanent, lasting damage. So that's why I'm in the "see a doctor" camp whenever I hear someone talk about joint pain. And here's a good primer on hand joint pain for you.
posted by saffry at 8:38 AM on August 23, 2007

agree with slavlin, the right sized paddle shaft makes all the difference in the world.
posted by spinturtle at 8:43 AM on August 23, 2007

Slavlin gets best answer here I think. You strained your tendons and /or ligaments in your fingers and paddle size should help but you need to care for your injury in the meantime. I've had similar injury and maybe milder before and I found soaking my hand in some crushed ice and water until I can't stand it while watching tv helped a lot over a few days. Get an anti-inflammatory and rest those fingers!
here's a link for common finger strain injuries (though climing related for the article I think what you have is similar enough in treatment)
posted by clanger at 8:49 AM on August 23, 2007

This may be more of an advice on avoiding it in the future, but might help, too, I don't know. I work a lot with keyboard (CAD, all commands mapped to keyboard, and some data entry and programming, etc etc). What I do is this: when I have a bit of free time, when walking, or waiting for someone, on the bus, or any other time, I stretch my fingers. I grab the thumb with the other hand and stretch it inward until it hurts a bit. Then I take the index finger and also stretch it inward until it hurts. And so on. Then I go back to the thumb and bend it outwards in the same manner & go over all fingers in sequence again, stretching outward. Then I do the second hand. If I still have time to spare I do the whole cycle a few times. It's a good way to kill the time, when listening to music or an audio book, too. The cool part is that you can do it anywhere, while almost any other kind of exercise would be inappropriate. Never had a problem with tunnel syndrome despite working for 10 years on keyboard and with mouse daily for many hours. I know 10 years doesn't necessarily lead to it but still.. The added benefit is that if hands and fingers don't get tired for a long time when working as they're stronger and more flexible.. hth!
posted by rainy at 12:59 PM on August 23, 2007

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