Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that occurs when the median nerve—which passes through the narrow passageway on the palm side of your hand, known as the carpal tunnel—gets compressed. Having a job that involves prolonged repetitive flexing of the wrist; typing, writing, or using a computer mouse; or using vibrating tools puts you at risk of developing CTS.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can’t always be prevented. Nonetheless, there are things that you can do to reduce the stress on your hands and wrists and help you mitigate the symptoms. Here are some useful strategies you can adopt to effectively deal with carpal tunnel injuries you sustained while on the job.
Taking Short, Frequent Breaks
If you are constantly using your wrist and hands for work, it is important to take short, frequent breaks to give your hands sufficient rest. If you regularly use equipment that vibrates or that requires excessive force, you should try to alternate tasks whenever possible. While on break, try to do gentle hand stretching and bending exercises to reduce pressure on your carpal tunnel and alleviate the symptoms.
Taking It Easy
When possible, try to reduce the amount of force you exert when carrying out activities that can put excessive stress on your wrist. If you are typing, try to touch the keys softly, and ensure your hands are positioned comfortably. When writing, use a pen with free-flowing ink and a soft grip adapter to prevent excessive force.
Avoid overextending your wrists or bending them all the way up or down. Such can aggravate your carpal tunnel injury.
Using Ergonomic Equipment
Ergonomic equipment is designed for efficiency and comfort in your working environment, and it can help to reduce the chance of injury. If you spend a large amount of time at a computer, ensure your keyboard and mouse are comfortable to avoid straining your wrist. It also helps to have your keyboard at elbow height.
Keeping Your Hands Warm
Cold temperatures may exacerbate carpal CTS symptoms and may delay healing. At work, you could try to wear gloves or wear wrist warmers, whichever helps.
Consulting an Orthopedic Doctor
Prolonged compression on the median nerve can cause damage to it and lead to disability. Seeing an orthopedic doctor can help you prevent these complications.
Your orthopedic doctor will perform a thorough evaluation to confirm a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment for you. Conservative treatment modalities for CTS may include:
- Anti-inflammatory or pain medications
- Wearing wrist splint- This is designed to support your wrist in a neutral position and keep it still to provide symptom relief and facilitate healing. Wearing a wrist splint at night can also help to prevent or reduce daytime symptoms.
- Physical therapy
If none of these works, your doctor may recommend carpal tunnel release surgery to help totally address the problem.