“How to beat aches and pains if you love to do crossword puzzles”
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Doing crossword puzzles is mentally stimulating and fun.
Many of our patients adore crossword puzzles. Those little thrills of victory when you find the right word or combinations of words can really make your day. Very few people realize it though, but doing crossword puzzles can lead to PAIN!
Doing crosswords is a set up for neck pain. The long hours spent hunched over the newspaper, book, or desk can lead to neck strain. This causes muscle aches in the neck and shoulders. You can also get headaches. So what do you do? Well, first, recognize that this is going to happen if you don’t take frequent breaks particularly if you hold your head in one position for a long time. It’s a good idea to stretch before and after.
Your shoulders can also hurt. When you work with your arms held in one position, you can run into a problem called impingement syndrome. This is when your rotator cuff tendons get pinched. It’s a common problem. Also, posture problems from sitting on a couch or easy chair when you do crosswords can also lead to shoulder, neck, and back problems. Specific stretching exercises for the shoulder before and after you do your crossword should help. Also, make sure you take frequent breaks. Ice packs after you work sometimes help with the pain as do over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
Elbow pain is a common problem after any type of repetitive arm motion. Doing crosswords can lead to a painful condition called lateral epicondylitis. This is a type of tendonitis that affects the outside part of the elbow. Stretching before you “play” can help as can stretching and ice after you do your crossword. Anti-inflammatory medicines, an elbow band, and physical therapy also can help. Rather than a cortisone injection which weakens tendon tissue, you might consider an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This is an ultra-concentrate of blood with a lot of platelets. Platelets are cells that contain many growth and healing factors and actually rebuild new tendon tissue.You may need a cortisone injection.
Hand and wrist pain is another common problem. Holding the pen and pencil can lead to significant fatigue problems in the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve into the hand gets pinched. This causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand. Treatment consists of physical therapy, a splint, and sometime injecting with steroid. In some instances, surgery is required. Different forms of tendonitis can also develop after repetitive motion. You can get trigger finger where the finger seems to stick. A painful tendonitis of the thumb can also be a result of doing crosswords.
Low back pain can come on from sitting too long in one place. Stretch before you do the crosswords and also afterward. Use ice packs if you strain your back. Over the counter medication can sometimes help also. See your doctor if the pain is severe or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
Stretching and massage are two important areas of treatment to consider if you love to do crosswords and develop aches and pains.
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