How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel


The pandemic changed everything including how many people are now working from home. With millions of the workforce and a lot more laptops being used for work, carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming an issue that was never on your radar before! Luckily there are ways to prevent it.


What is it?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common issue with the median nerve. The carpal tunnel can be caused by pressure on this delicate passage, causing symptoms including numbness and tingling in your hand as well as weakness of muscles near it.


Symptoms

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually start gradually and include:

  • Tingling or numbness. You may notice tingling and numbness in your fingers or hand. Usually the thumb and index, middle or ring fingers are affected, but not your little finger. You might feel a sensation like an electric shock in these fingers.

  • The sensation may travel from your wrist up your arm. These symptoms often occur while holding a steering wheel, phone or newspaper, or may wake you from sleep.

  • Many people "shake out" their hands to try to relieve their symptoms. The numb feeling may become constant over time.

  • Weakness. You may experience weakness in your hand and drop objects. This may be due to the numbness in your hand or weakness of the thumb's pinching muscles, which are also controlled by the median nerve.


Prevention


1. Try a Softer Touch: As you go through your day, keep an eye on how tense your hands are and how much pressure you put on them. If you can back off even a little, your hands and wrists will thank you.

2. Give Yourself a Break: Step away from your work to bend or stretch your hands. A 10- to 15-minute break every hour is ideal.

3. Stretch Often: When you take those breaks (or any time throughout the day), try this simple stretch:

  • Make a fist

  • Slide your fingers up until they point straight out

  • Repeat 5-10 times

4. Stay Neutral: If you can, avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down. When you keep your wrist in a straight, neutral position, it takes the pressure off your median nerve.

Wearing a wrist brace when you sleep can help you do this. It might also help to wear it during activities that trigger your symptoms.


5. Switch It Up: Try to avoid doing the same hand and wrist motions over and over again. For example, if you have a task that you always do with your right hand, do it with your left instead. Or, mix up your tasks as much as you can to give your muscles a break.


6. Watch Your Posture: While it’s natural to focus on your wrist and hands, how you hold the rest of your body can also make a difference. Poor posture may cause you to roll your shoulders forward. This sets off a chain reaction that shortens your neck and shoulder muscles, crunches the nerves in your neck, and makes wrist problems worse.


7. Stay Warm: It sounds simple, but it makes a difference. When you’re cold, pain and stiffness get worse. Even gloves with no fingers can be helpful because they keep your hands and wrists warm and loose.


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Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355603

https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/carpal-tunnel/how-can-i-prevent-carpal-tunnel-syndrome


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