What You Can Do to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that results when a nerve in your hand, called the median nerve, gets squeezed as it travels through a small opening in your wrist, your carpal tunnel, and continues up your arm.

If you work on a computer most of the day or in a factory where tasks require repetitive hand motions, you may be unknowingly placing too much stress on your median nerve and the tendons and tissues in your wrists. Your tissue can swell from constant use, narrowing the carpal tunnel passage for your median nerve and resulting in pain, numbness, and tingling in your hands.

What can you do to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome? You can make several changes to calm this condition before it becomes a serious disability.

Adjustments to your work station

Some simple changes to your work station can help relieve carpal tunnel and prevent it from occurring. If you work on a computer, look at your wrists while you’re going about your daily tasks. They should be straight — not in awkward positions angled in or out.

When you’re using a keyboard, make sure your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and not sloping up or down. Your wrists shouldn’t hit or rest on the keyboard; ensure you’re positioned so your hands float above it as you type. Anytime you need to use two keys at once — such as the Shift or Control key and another character — use two hands instead of one to avoid unnecessary pressure on the nerves and tendons in your wrists.

Have you tried a split keyboard? It divides the board into two halves that produce a more natural position for both of your hands than a regular keyboard. It’s a great ergonomic choice.

Changes to your work habits

Do you tend to get caught up in your work and stay on the computer for hours? Learn to give your wrists a break. As you pause to think, lift up your fingers and stretch them out. Roll your wrists in gentle circles. If necessary, set a timer and make yourself get up, stretch, or walk to the coffee machine.

If your work is in a factory, rotate tasks when possible to avoid spending too much time repeating a motion. Take breaks to rest your hands. If you can, place an ice pack on your wrists during your breaks to calm inflammation, and use one at home.

Intentional wrist exercises and stretching  

If you’re starting to feel pain in your wrists, you’re already motivated to do everything you can to mitigate it. Gentle exercises are helpful in preventing carpal tunnel and in calming symptoms if you already have them.

Consult the team at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow before you start any exercises. Your therapist advises you which exercises and stretches are beneficial for you and which motions you should avoid.

Getting a wrist brace

You may be bending your wrist as you sleep — in fact, most people do. This places too much pressure on the median nerve in your wrist, compounding the aggravation from working all day on the computer or in a factory.

A wrist brace or splint helps keep your wrist in a neutral position when you sleep. Research supports the use of wrist braces in relieving carpal tunnel symptoms.

 

 

Call or book an appointment online with Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow to learn more about preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and for expert treatment if you have symptoms.

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