Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common nerve condition affecting about 3-6% of all adults. It can result from a trauma or injury, rheumatoid arthritis, or a job or hobby that requires repetitive hand and wrist movements such as factory work, working on a computer, sewing, or cleaning.
Having diabetes or other disorders that affect the body’s nerves can also increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel.
Usually, carpal tunnel is the result of a combination of factors. You can’t prevent it, but there are many things you can do to reduce your risks of developing it and to prevent symptoms from worsening.
Here, our medical team at Douglas J. Abeles M.D. & Associates offers tips on how to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome at work.
Your median nerve runs from your forearm to the palm of your hand. The carpal tunnel, a tube made of bone and ligament, surrounds the median nerve and tendons that enable you to bend your fingers. When the tunnel becomes narrow, the nerve inside compresses.
When this compression occurs, you may feel tingling in your fingers, usually your thumb and index finger. As the condition progresses, you may have trouble grabbing or holding small objects.
Eventually, you may feel pain, weakness, and numbness in your hands and arms, making it difficult to do work that involves your hands. Carpal tunnel can affect one or both wrists.
The goal of preventing or reducing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is to minimize pressure on your hands and wrists. Some ways to reduce this pressure include:
Poor posture, such as slouching and repeatedly bending forward to use your computer or scroll through your smartphone, can affect your back as well as your wrists, shoulders, arms, and hands.
Focus on sitting up straight in a comfortable chair to prevent the tightening of muscles that can affect your wrists. Additionally, keep your wrists in a natural, relaxed position while you work.
Stretch often. Bend your wrists and fingers backward and forward. Raise your arms to the sky. Bend forward, back, and sideways.
Take frequent breaks to give your hands and wrists a chance to rest. Breaks are especially important if you’re lifting heavy objects or using machinery that vibrates.
If you work at a desk all day, make sure your workstation is set up ergonomically correct. This means your computer screen is at the right height and distance for your eyes and neck. Your keyboard should be in a position so you don’t have to bend or strain your wrists to type.
If your hands and body are cold, your muscles can stiffen up. Try fingerless gloves if you’re doing computer work in a chilly office.
If your symptoms persist, Dr. Abeles can work with you to develop a treatment plan that may include splints, anti-inflammatories, corticosteroid injections, or surgery.
If you’re feeling pain and tingling sensations in your wrists and hands, call us at the private practice of Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California, to make an appointment for a diagnosis and treatment plan.