With the advent of the personal computer, the average office has made leaps and bounds in productivity. Everything from sales to communications and marketing to administrative and clerical work are all handled at desktop computers. The convenience comes at a price, though.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is linked to repetitive movements of the hand and wrist, which is common among data entry workers, assembly line laborers, mechanics and carpenters. CTS is caused by compression of the median nerve in the arm as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. Symptoms of CTS include feelings of weakness, numbness, tingling and burning in the hand and fingers.
The good news is that CTS is not an unavoidable condition. Below are a few tips for avoiding CTS in the workplace:
1. Avoid repetition over long periods of time. It’s already recommended that workers take five to 10 minutes out of every hour to rest their eyes from computer screens and improve circulation and posture by moving around. Take a quick walk around the office or to the water cooler. For office workers, voice recognition software may produce a good alternative to the redundant motions of constant typing.
2. Practice good posture. Keep arms, hands and wrists in a relaxed position as you work. Computer workers should avoid using a mouse at all, if possible, and if they must use one, they should hold it lightly with a relaxed wrist and forearm.
3. Invest in good equipment. Keyboards with little tension allow users to depress them without excessive force. Wrist rests allow typists to maintain a comfortable position for the wrists and fingers and fit under most keyboards. Mouse supports can reduce stress on the hand while supporting the wrist. Little investments like this minimize everyday pressure on the median nerve.
4. Stretch the fingers. At least once or twice a day, remember to stretch the fingers to reduce pressure on the wrist and hand. One particularly relieving stretch involves the thumb: gently pull the thumb out and back and hold for five seconds, repeating seven to 10 times or as desired.
5. Stretch the hands and arms. Stretching the hands and arms reduces pressure on the wrist. To stretch the forearms, place hands together in front of the chest with you fingers and hands arranged upward in a prayer-like fashion. Keeping palms flat and together, lift the elbows and hold for ten seconds. Then, shake the hands limp and repeat as needed throughout the day.
As always, it is important to seek medical counsel when it comes to any health concerns. The orthopedic doctors at Southeast Ortho are trained to treat the intricate bones, tendons and joints of the hands and wrists. Consult with us today to determine the best course of action for preventing and treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
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