Guest Post by Tracy Hartley PT, DPT
Preventing carpal tunnel syndrome is a lot easier than treating this repetitive strain injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve is compressed in the carpal tunnel as it passes through the wrist. The median nerve is responsible for controlling several thumb muscles and sensation in part of the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include:
- Vague pain in the hand or palm that occurs first as an early warning sign.
- Tingling burning sensation in the palm, thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the inside half of the ring finger. This usually occurs at night first, especially if you sleep with your wrists flexed.
- Numbness in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the inside half of the ring finger.
- Weak grip.
- The median nerve does not innervate the little finger. Therefore, your pinky is spared.
Carpal tunnel treatment can be surgical or non-surgical. Success favors surgery at this point.
Prevention is clearly the preferential approach to carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are the key steps to prevent this from happening to you:
- Vary tasks. Frequently change repetitive tasks or job stations. Repetition is the most common risk factor.
- Perform exercises. Stretch your wrist the opposite direction of the repetitive task for 30 seconds, 3 times each during your breaks.
- Stay warm. Wear gloves or fingerless gloves. Risk increases in cold environments.
- Prevent wrist injuries. Adjust desk height to 27 to 29 inches for most people. Work with elbows at your side. Support your forearm if you mouse and type for an extended period (aka the blogger injury).
- Relax your grip. Practice lessening your grip when repeating tasks. Take a break and shake out your hands to get them to relax. Or head over to the spa for an iPhone massage…yes, it does exist!
Read more from Tracy and his nurse wife Jana at A Doctor and a Nurse.
Have any tips for hand relief? Share them in the comments section below!
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