Work Wellness

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and How to Prevent It

Avatar of Autonomous Autonomous | Feb 28, 2021
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There are a couple of risks for people who work long hours in office environments and home offices, especially for people whose jobs require them to sit for a long time. A common risk for office workers is ergonomic office injuries, repetitive strain injury, an umbrella term for many conditions that originate from repetitive tasks, which are common in an office. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of them, and besides the commonplace shoulder, neck, and back pains, it’s something to look out for in desk jobs with continuous repetitive work.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

It’s a medical condition that occurs due to median nerve compression. The pressure on the median nerve commonly causes symptoms such as tingling, numbness, weakness, and trouble holding objects, among other things. This nerve that goes along the forearm to the carpal tunnel passageway in the wrist and ends in the palm of the hand controls the movement and feelings of the thumb and other fingers, besides the little finger.

Although it’s a common work-related disorder that robs more work time than any other related injury, it’s often misdiagnosed. Current research seems to favor that genetics plays an integral part in the likeness of suffering from this syndrome, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take an active effort in learning how to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s still a fact that people who are subject to repetitive motions during work are more prone to suffer from this syndrome.

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are many ways that can help you prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from developing or even worsening if you already suspect you have it because you’re experiencing some of the symptoms. The most useful thing you can do is reduce the stress and strain your hands and wrist suffer during long work hours, and some things you can do that help you do that and more are:

Watching Your Posture

Watching Your Posture

Posture greatly influences the risk of suffering from many repetitive strain injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome. The way you hold both your wrist and hands along the rest of your body can make all the difference. A poor posture can cause you to slouch forward, setting off a chain reaction that can end up shortening your shoulder and neck muscles. This shortening causes pain in the afflicted areas and can end up worsening your wrist problems as a consequence.

Improving your posture can be challenging for people who have already developed a habitual proper sitting posture while working at a computer or writing that feels comfortable for them. Still, it’s an essential part of how to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome while improving your health. You can do a couple of things to aid you in this task, including keeping your arms and wrists in line with your forearm. Correctly positioning your elbows close to your sides is also important.

Adjust Your Working Environment

Adjust Your Working Environment

Implementing workplace ergonomic solutions lets you acquire office equipment that may improve your posture and comfort sitting posture while writing or working. The most common ergonomic options are ergonomic chairs and ergonomic height-adjustable desks. These carpal tunnel ergonomics solutions give you an easy way to prevent the syndrome while also improving your health, productivity, and focus in the workplace.

In particular, standing desks benefits can impact your physical health, as they allow you to stay active while working, reducing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome along with pains that come from stress and strain. These desks also improve your focus and energy. Having a standing desk doesn’t mean you have to stand the whole time, as getting tired is a likely possibility when you work at these desks for a time. Fortunately, many good standing desks give you the option of adjusting their height, making them compatible with typical office chairs like ErgoChair 2 and ergonomic ones.

Switching up your computer input devices or tools you use for work can benefit you, so trying out a couple of them to figure out which feels the best without neglecting posture is a good idea. Changing the hand you use the most while working at your office is another thing that can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Stretch and Hand Exercises

Stretch and Hand Exercises

Stretching and doing hand exercises when you take a work break, which is recommended to do at least once per hour as it also benefits your health, can prevent circulation problems or treat most hand and wrist injuries. These exercises are more influential for people with desk jobs. A simple hand stretch you can do consists of repeating a motion of making a fist and stretching your fingers until they point straight out between five and ten times.

There are many practical and simple hand and wrist exercises, such as thumb touches, circling your wrists, or even using exercise balls. Performing them frequently during your work breaks is one of the best ways of how to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

Use Less Force During Work

Use Less Force During Work

It’s possible that on many occasions, you use more force than necessary when you’re handling your regular tools or even typing on your keyboard. You may be pressing your computer keys with force when all you need is to tap on them gently. It’s also possible that you’re gripping your tools too tightly when you only need to have a firm hold. Be aware of how much pressure and tense your hands are when you’re doing your daily work, as having a softer touch is one of the best ways to improve carpal tunnel ergonomics.

There are many other suggestions that you can implement to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, but these are the most important ones. Fortunately, this syndrome isn’t too common. Most desk workers only experience typical ailments such as back, shoulder, and neck pains up to varying degrees, which all the suggestions mentioned can help mitigate.

This doesn’t mean that carpal tunnel syndrome is something that you’re free to ignore. It’s always better to take measures to avoid something detrimental from happening, as unlikely as they may be.

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