Most people take their hands for granted. Their dexterity, versatility, and strength are simply there, allowing you to do incredible things without a second thought. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) changes that, making those who suffer from the condition painfully aware of just how much and how often we rely on something we count on every day.
For those who work with their hands, including at a desk or with tools, this discomfort, pain, numbness, and even weakness can be more than an inconvenience. Their very livelihoods may be at stake. As more people spend their time putting hours of work in at keyboards, the likelihood of the condition grows.
So, what is carpal tunnel syndrome and how can you avoid it? Read on to find out!
What is Carpal Tunnel?
The median nerve runs from your arm into your hand through a narrow path in your wrist. This tunnel is composed of bone and ligament, and is named the carpel tunnel. When this tunnel becomes inflamed, the median nerve can be pinched. In turn, this affects all of your fingers except your pinky. It can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, complete with symptoms such as numbness, tingling, irritation, and weakness.
Ways to Prevent Carpel Tunnel
Whether you’ve noticed the symptoms of carpal tunnel and want to rehabilitate and avoid exacerbating the problem, or you are trying to prevent carpal tunnel from developing in the first place, there are a handful of things you can do. Most of the steps are extremely simple, making them easy to take toward better health and wellness, especially if you are at risk of developing CTS.
Take a Break
One of the catalysts of carpal tunnel is repetition. With this repetition come overuse and inflammation, leading to CTS and a host of potential symptoms. By taking frequent breaks throughout the workday (or during a hobby project), you give your body a chance to rest and recover. Stepping away every hour for 10 to 15 minutes is ideal, but any break is better than none.
Stretch, Then Stretch Again
During your break (or even periodically as you work), take a moment to stretch the areas most often associated with carpal tunnel, including your fingers, hands, and wrists. There are several simple stretches you can perform without even rising from your seat. For example, you can make a fist, then open your hand and extend your fingers out as far as possible. Repeat up to 10 times.
Reduce Your Tension
Whether it’s for your job or your passion, if you do something often enough, it becomes second nature, and you stop thinking about it. For repetitive movements, like using tools or typing on a keyboard, it is easy to fall into a habit of exerting more force than necessary. From gripping a tool tighter than necessary to hammering the keys instead of gently tapping, that excess tension can add up over time, putting you at risk of developing CTS. To avoid this, simply be more cognitive of even the most mundane movements and focus on having a softer touch.
Discuss It with Your Doctor
If you are experiencing signs of CTS or consider yourself at risk and want to be preemptive in your prevention, consider talking to a doctor. Not only can they evaluate your current health and habits, but they can also teach you valuable stretches, discuss workspace ergonomics, and work with you to develop a plan for success.
Whether you’re suffering from carpal tunnel or simply want to learn more, we encourage you to reach out to us with any questions. We’ll gladly listen to your concerns, provide you with information, and otherwise help you reach your CTS-free future.