We use our hands every day, so it’s easy to take them for granted. But many of our everyday tasks put stress on our hands and wrists. Over time, this can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition that causes numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hands.
The physicians at Orthopedics & Wellness in Waldorf, Germantown, and Frederick, Maryland, offer effective solutions that can address pain and weakness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. But Ojedapo Ojeyemi, MD, and Matthew Roh, MD, understand that the best treatment is prevention. That’s why they’ve curated this list of simple tips to help keep you from getting carpal tunnel syndrome in the first place.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of compression of the median nerve, the nerve that carries sensations to your thumb and all fingers except your pinky. As this nerve makes its way from your arm to your hand, it passes through a narrow opening made of bones and ligaments called the carpal tunnel.
When your wrist swells, this compresses the carpal tunnel. When the carpal tunnel is squeezed, this puts pressure on the median nerve that runs through it, leading to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hand. These symptoms usually begin gradually and become more severe over time. If you’re already experiencing wrist pain, the team at Orthopedic & Wellness will evaluate your symptoms and offer recommendations for relief.
Who is at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome frequently develops due to repetitive wrist movement, such as typing on a keyboard, working on an assembly line, making jewelry, knitting, or using gaming controls.
Although it can start at any age, carpal tunnel is most commonly diagnosed in men and women ages 30-60. Women are three times more likely than men to develop the painful syndrome, and conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure, can increase your risk.
Simple tips to prevent getting carpal tunnel syndrome
Adjust your work area
By improving your posture at your work or hobby area, you can reduce the strain on your wrists and reduce your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. To create an ergonomically correct workstation, you should position your wrists above your hands when you type and keep your elbows close to your sides as you type. This will reduce the pressure on your wrists.
Practice a light touch
Too often, we exert more force than necessary to complete everyday tasks, such as typing. Instead of banging on the keys or gripping tools tightly, practice using a lighter touch. Remain mindful throughout the day of how much pressure you’re using, and try to reduce it when possible.
Take breaks and stretch throughout the day
If your workday or hobby involves repetitive wrist movement, be sure to take frequent breaks. Change which hand you use for different tasks, and stretch your wrists and hands frequently. For example, try making a fist and then stretching your fingers out as far as possible.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome before it starts. By eating right and exercising, you’ll mitigate your risk for developing conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, all of which can contribute to swelling and nerve damage.
Improve your sleeping position
If you lay on your hands while you sleep, you may increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoid sleeping in positions that cause your wrists to bend or twist. You can also try wearing braces to prevent your wrists from bending.
Warmer temperatures can help keep stiffness at bay. If the temperature of your environment is out of your control, such as in air-conditioned offices or walk-in freezers, keep your wrists warm by wearing fingerless gloves or wrist warmers.
To learn more about preventing carpal tunnel syndrome or to get treatment for it, book an appointment online or over the phone with the Orthopedic & Wellness clinic nearest you.