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Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Work

Posted October 07, 2014 in Hand Safety

man holding wrist in pain

What is a Carpal Tunnel and what is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, which houses the median nerve and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This nerve controls sensations to the palm side of your thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.

Are you in a high risk group for carpal tunnel syndrome?

If you’re working on a computer all day, you may be putting yourself at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Some people are more prone to this because they have a smaller carpal tunnel, but women are three times more likely develop CTS. It can also be caused by an injury, fluid retention during pregnancy, or repetitive motions like using a mouse or keyboard. Take matters into your own hands and learn five ways to prevent the pain and tingly sensations caused by CTS.

Carpal Tunnel Quick Facts

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome can be mild and temporary, usually when the cause is temporary. But continuing an activity that puts pressure on the median nerve can lead to permanent nerve damage and hand weakness.
  • How often or how long you do a task is only part of what can cause a repetitive motion injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome. If your hands aren’t aligned with your arms while you work, even doing a task for a short time can be a problem. Getting carpal tunnel symptoms by using poor body mechanics for one task adds to your risk of having pain and weakness if you do other manual tasks that can also affect the median nerve.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome can sneak up on you. After it starts, pain and inflammation can take patience and time to treat. To prevent problems, your smartest choice is to build good habits now.

Tips to Avoid or Correct Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Revamp your setup: Be aware about your desk ergonomics at the office. Keep your keyboard, mouse, and phone within your forearm’s length, and adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard. When you set your keys up this way, you don’t have to flex your wrists to type.
  • Prop up: Using a long pads that run along the length of your keyboard to prop up the heels of your palms. This way your forearms, wrists, and hands are in one straight line, which can prevent the nerve from getting squeezed. If your mousing hand bothers you, try a mouse pad with support and cushioning the so that you rest your wrist more comfortably.
  • New keys: Setting up correctly helps, but your wrist may benefit from using a ergonomic keyboard like the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard ($50) so that hands and wrists type in a more natural position.
  • Go for height: If you’re using a regular mouse and it bothers your wrist, pick up a vertical mouse. The Ergoguys Wow Pen Joy Vertical Mouse ($30) works so that your thumb is pointing straight up. It may feel more comfortable on your wrist.
  • Break for a stretch: Take regularly from using your mouse and typing. Regularly perform wrist stretches at your desk to promote strength that will keep your wrists safe from CTS.