Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain, tingling and numbness in your hand and arm. It occurs when one of the major nerves to your hand – the median nerve – is compressed or squeezed as it travels through your wrist.
The median nerve goes through a narrow passage, known as the carpal tunnel, in the bones of your wrist. The carpal tunnel can become irritated, which narrows the amount of space the median nerve has within the tunnel. Pressure to the median nerve causes pain and other symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
A combination of factors can cause most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of the factors that cause carpal tunnel syndrome, such as age and gender, are out of your control. Women and older people are more likely to develop the condition, according to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Only adults develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
Heredity is also an important factor that you cannot change – you may have inherited a smaller carpal tunnel or other anatomical differences that change the amount of space for the median nerve. Pregnancy can also increase your risk for carpal tunnel, as hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling in the carpal tunnel.
1. Avoid repetitive hand motions and take breaks
Repeating the same hand and wrist motions over a long time can aggravate the tendons in your wrist in ways that causes swelling and increased pressure on the median nerve. Take frequent breaks when performing tasks requiring repetitive hand motions. Look for different ways to move your hands and wrists when performing tasks that require repetitive hand motions.
Engaging in activities that involve extreme bending of the hand and wrist for a long time can put pressure on the median nerve.
Take frequent breaks whenever performing motions that require extreme or prolonged bending of your hand and wrist. Investigate alternative hand motions for these jobs. Perform stretching exercises before, during and after engaging in repetitive hand motions.
2. Use splints, tools and ergonomic furniture
Wear splints to keep your wrists straight. Good posture is important too – ergonomic furniture can help you maintain correct posture and wrist position. Fingerless gloves can keep your hands warm and flexible. Consult with your supervisor to discuss redesigning workstations, tools and tool handles that keep wrists in a natural position during work. Rotating jobs among workers can also reduce the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
3. Take care of your health
Take good care of your health. Minor health issues, like poor posture, can increase your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Other health conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid gland imbalances are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Consult with your doctor to make sure you are in the best health possible and for help on managing medical conditions. Ask your doctor to assess your risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
For more information on carpal tunnel syndrome and ways to prevent it, make an appointment with Revere Health.