Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


For the last 10 years, I've worked as a medical transcriptionist. I've never had any problems until just now. My thumb has started to ache every time I lift it off the keyboard. I love my job and don't want anything to keep me from doing it. Why is this happening now all of a sudden?


No one knows for sure why tendonitis occurs at just a certain moment. We don't know why one person gets it while another doing the same job doesn't have any problems. It's likely that the repeated motions are part of the problem. But since not everyone gets into trouble, there must be other factors.

Researchers think some people have a slower blood supply and less lubrication to that area. The result is high friction. The tendon gets abraded and ruptures. In some people the shape of the bone under the tendon might have something to do with it. If the tendon moves back and forth over the same spot, it might rub and begin to fray.

Any of these problems can cause tendon surface damage over time. Inflammation starts. Enzymes destroy the natural lubricating fluid around the tendons. This increases friction and damage and sets up a vicious cycle of more inflammation, more friction, and less lubrication.

Be sure and take a look at your hand position as you work. Make sure your workstation is set up to give you optimal position and use of your hands and arms. Also, you may wish to look at these two web sites for more information:

  • http://www.orosha.org/cergos. Click on "Workstation setup" and "Good work habits."
  • http://www.HealthyComputing.com.

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    Keiji Kutsumi, MD, et al. Measurement of Gliding Resistance of the Extensor Pollicis Longus and Extensor Digitorum Communis II Tendons Within the Extensor Retinaculum. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. March 2004. Vol. 29A. No. 2. Pp. 220-224.

    *Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
    All content provided by eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. Content is the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, LLC and used herein by permission.
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