Chopsticks & Hand Arthritis

Occasional use of chopsticks at a restaurant is unlikely to cause a problem, but repetitive stress of a lifetime might.

The prevalence of arthritis is greater in the thumb and fingers that people use to manipulate chopsticks compared to the other joints of the hand, with the relationship being particularly strong in women.

Researchers conclude that a lifetime of using chopsticks may raise the risk of developing arthritis in certain joints of the hand. Joints in the chopstick-using index and middle fingers are more likely to be arthritic than other joints in the hand.

The pincer grip that chopsticks require -- bringing the tips of the fingers and thumb together -- may be the cause. This grip is similar to that used in certain occupations that have also been linked to hand arthritis. The researchers use X-rays to diagnose the arthritic joints. In another word, they did not use patient's pain responses. This is significant as some people could have arthritic joints and yet not the symptoms.

Most Chinese children achieve the visual motor skill of using chopsticks by age 4 to 6 years. Those with less developed sensory motor coordination develop the skill later.