Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) affects millions of people around the world, especially those whose jobs require frequent, repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. The condition is marked by numbness, tingling, or even pain. Dr Lauren Papa will provide tips on how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome when working.



Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


CTS affects the hand and arm and results from excessive pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. This nerve, along with several tendons, runs from your forearm to your hand via the narrow carpal tunnel in the wrist. Excessive pressure injures the nerve, causing symptoms that range from mild occasional numbness to long-term loss of hand function if left untreated.



Prevention Tips Against CTS


While office workers are a high-risk group for CTS given their high usage of computer keyboards, workers in various industries might face similar risks. Here are some strategies you can practice in your workplace to keep CTS at bay.



Proper Posture To Prevent CTS


Poor posture can lead to CTS as it increases the strain on your entire upper body, including the wrists and hands. By improving your posture, you can ease the pressure on these areas. You need to sit all the way back in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.


Other than that, you should keep your back straight, maintaining the natural curvature of your spine. And lastly, you should always position your screen at eye level or slightly below, so you don’t have to tilt your head.



Ergonomic Adjustments


The way your workspace is structured can have a significant impact on the strain you place on your wrist – so adopting ergonomic changes can help. Ensure your keyboard and mouse are positioned properly. Your elbows should be at a comfortable angle (around 90 degrees), and your wrists should be flat and straight in relation to your forearm.


Consider using a split design or ergonomic keyboard and mouse, which encourages a more natural hand and wrist position. Lastly, resting your wrists on a support while typing is not recommended, and may indeed increase the risk of CTS. They should only be used during breaks from active typing.



Taking Regular Breaks From Straining Work


Repetitive tasks increase the risk for CTS – so taking breaks from these activities can help to prevent this condition. Every 20-30 minutes, take micro-breaks of a few seconds to stretch your hands and wrists. And every hour or two, take longer breaks (at least 5 minutes) to stand, move around, and perform whole-body stretches.



Hand And Wrist Exercises


Lastly, specific exercises can ease the tension in your wrists, retain flexibility, and increase the strength of the muscles that control the wrist. First, Dr Lauren Papa recommends that you extend and stretch both wrists and fingers acutely as if they are in a handstand position. Hold for a count of 5, then straighten your wrists and relax your fingers.


Other than that, you should stand at arm’s length from a wall, and place your hands on the wall, fingers pointing down. Keeping your arms straight, lean your body forward slightly and feel the stretch in your lower arm, right before holding for 15 seconds.