Humans have been using tools for millennia. But none have been as widely used or as constantly demanding on the finer tissues of the hands and fingers as the keyboard. Most office workers have been realizing the toll that it takes for many years now.
Whether you’re spending hours a day on a computer, like most people in today’s workforce, or simply texting and surfing the web, we’re asking a lot more of our fingers than they’re built to withstand, greatly increasing our risk of developing musculo-skeletal disorders like tendonitis, carpal tunnel and osteoarthritis.
Between writing, using my phone, playing guitar and piano, rock climbing and generally keeping active, I put a massive tax on my joints and connective tissues each week, which especially shows in the sharp pains and dull aches in my elbows, forearms and wrists.
Just like using a keyboard, the constant acute flexion and tension of the muscles and tendons in the arms and fingers cause them to swell and become inflamed. While this is the body’s natural response to try and repair the damaged area, the problem often is that I’m rarely able get a break from the activities that cause the inflammation in the first place, such as needing to keep up with work on the computer, or practice and play shows.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation in the body is also a serious issue, which is thought to be one of the leading causes of disease, obesity, accelerated aging and illness. This kind of inflammation is primarily caused by diet and general stress.
And since our system only has so many anti-inflammatory resources to allocate at a time, this leaves us left extra susceptible to experiencing chronic pain caused by our daily activities such as keyboarding and clicking mice.
Like most people, when you’re in pain you probably reach for a bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen. These are part of a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).
But taken with regularity, these common NSAIDs are quite dangerous. The FDA advises people to take them for no longer than 10 days at a time. Otherwise you are at extremely high risk for developing conditions like bleeding stomach ulcers, heartburn and gastritis (erosion or irritation of the stomach lining.) As well as generally raising your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Those with a history of heart problems should be especially cautious with these drugs. A recent study published in The British Medical Journal showed that NSAIDs increase the risk of heart failure by nearly 20%.
For the same pain relief, without the horrifying side effects, there is an alternative. Curcumin has been getting a lot of buzz lately, and rightfully so. According to reports from Dr. Rhonda Patrick, American biochemist and geneticist, recent research has shown that curcumin is as as effective, and in some cases more effective, than conventional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and acetaminophen in treating osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.
Curcumin is the active key beneficial component in Turmeric; the popular yellowy-orange Indian spice. And it’s impact on the body is profound. Here are just a few key benefits:
- Strongly anti-inflammatory, rivalling the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs
- Potent anti-oxidant, neutralizing free radicals in the body, which are responsible for aging and cellular decay, while also stimulating the body’s natural anti-oxidant mechanisms
- Increases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a growth hormone in the brain that supports neuro-plasticity, which is active in parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning and high-level cognition
So it’s not just a natural, side-effect free pain reliever, but a brain booster and anti-ager as well.
BDNF also helps clear brain fog and lift states of depression (see my article on beating winter blues for more tips to deal with that), which makes it incredibly more valuable than aspirin and other over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
If you’re experiencing chronic inflammation, it can be a fairly easy fix. I find that all I need is a curcumin supplement, physiotherapy and a little patience.
- Liposomal Curcumin
I initially started using turmeric a few years ago in curries and have since started putting it on my eggs and most dishes I make. But while I like the taste of turmeric and know that it’s good for me, I found out that it’s not really possible to get the curcumin content by simply eating it.
Curcumin only comprises 3 to 4% of the turmeric spice. On top of that, it’s marginally bio-available, meaning the body has a hard time absorbing it into the bloodstream. It needs to be processed in particular ways, such as simmering with coconut oil and black pepper, or blending it with egg yolks. Even still, you’re not getting significant amounts.
A liposomal technology curcumin supplement is a brilliant solution to all these problems. It is not only a potent extract, giving you way more curcumin than any food can provide, but the protective liposomal delivery system spikes bio-availability through the roof.
And the beauty of using curcumin as a natural, effective pain reliever is that it’s side effects are highly restorative rather than degenerative. As mentioned above, improved cognitive performance and combating cellular decay are just a few of it’s perks.
Stretching is part of my daily life. I’m addicted to working out knots and searching for tight, knotty pockets of muscle and nerves. It was only a few years ago now that I discovered the magical world of trigger point therapy and I can’t believe I went my entire life up until then in ignorance.
These days, foam rollers and acupressure balls are right up there with toothbrushes and shoes in the list of things I use every day. Once you learn to love the exquisite pain of ironing out or “smashing” a trigger point, you can say goodbye to the majority of your chronic pain and tension.
It’s also valuable, relaxing time when I’m away from screens and can release all tension and work out the knots not just in my body but in my thoughts and feelings as well. I sleep like a rock afterward too.
If you work with computers a lot, here is a link to some awesome stretches and exercises for your wrists.
Managing my inflammation in a healthy way means that I can maintain the lifestyle that makes me happy without worrying about destroying my gut or putting my heart at risk.
With proper care, I not only can keep up my fitness routines, play music and stay on top of the keyboard demands of the writing work that I do, without having to sacrifice time and money by going through extended periods of healing.