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March 6, 2019 | Hand, Wrist and Elbow Center • Orthopedics
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition that causes pain and discomfort in the wrist and hand. It is caused by a compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist at the carpal tunnel. Overusing hand and wrist muscles, which can often happen in a workplace or at home, often leads to carpal tunnel syndrome.
You can take simple steps to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome so you can focus on your task at hand without the distracting discomfort.
When going through our daily routines, we don’t always realize the effects they have because of the frequency at which we perform them. Often we use too much force in a task than is necessary. For example, you might grip your tools too tightly when holding them firmly would suffice. If you work at a computer, you might pound the keys on the keyboard when gentle keystrokes will do. Being mindful of how tense your hands are and how much force you are using can help you know when you can hold back.
We often don’t give ourselves enough of a break when performing tasks for long periods of time. Taking a five- to ten-minute break every hour is ideal, especially when you are using tools or instruments that vibrate or require a high amount of force from your hands and wrists.
During your breaks, it’s important to stretch your hands and wrists to continue your work. This can be as simple as making a fist with your hand and then releasing your fingers and expanding them as far as you can. You can repeat exercises like this multiple times during your breaks to ensure your hands are ready to continue working without discomfort or pain.
If possible, try avoiding the same hand motions over and over again. For instance, if you perform a certain task with your right hand, try doing it with your left hand instead. Mix up your tasks and the way you do them as much as is possible in your position.
This may sound simple, and that’s because it is. Coldness heightens the pain and stiffness that comes from carpal tunnel syndrome, so something as simple as staying warm can relieve symptoms in the hand and wrists.
If your specific workplace seems to be triggering your symptoms, you may be able to work with your supervisor. Together you can create a plan to alter your workstation or change how you get tasks done to best help your symptoms. You could also try trading tasks with other coworkers to avoid repetition.
If you are experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome frequently and can’t seem to find relief, talk to a professional. You may need to see an orthopedic specialist for medical or surgical treatment, or you can visit an occupational therapist to show you exercises that strengthen your hands and wrists.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.