What Measures Can I Take to Prevent Carpal Tunnel?

By: Dr. Ellen Edgar  -  no responses  -  Conditions, Education, Neurological Blog

Woman suffering from carpal tunnel in New York

Many individuals, particularly those who spend a significant amount of time involved in activities that involve repetitive or forceful wrist or hand movements, deal with carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of the common activities that may increase the risk for carpal tunnel include working with tiny instruments, using a sander, knitting, driving, and using a computer. The good news is that it’s possible to take measures to prevent this painful problem, although if you have any of the symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care for the correct treatment.

What is Carpal Tunnel?

If you’re not familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s an arm and hand condition that may cause tingling, numbness, and various other symptoms. This syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a very narrow passage that’s located on the palm side of the wrist and bound by ligaments and bones. The tunnel is there to protect a main nerve going to the hand, as well as various tendons that help bend the fingers. When this nerve is compressed, it results in tingling and numbness, and eventually, it may even cause weakness in the hand. For most individuals who develop this syndrome, proper treatment helps relieve the symptoms, restoring hand and wrist function.

Tips for Preventing Carpal Tunnel

Although there’s no surefire way to ensure you never get carpal tunnel, you can take some measures to reduce your risk of acquiring this condition. Here are a few ways to help prevent and reduce your risk of this syndrome.

  • Tip #1 – Take Breaks – If you do work that requires you to use your fingers or hands repetitively, make sure you take breaks. Take a break each hour, lightly flexing and stretching the fingers and hands to allow them to relax. If you’re working with vibrating equipment, you should take a couple of breaks each hour.
  • Tip #2 – Reduce Force and Relax – When engaging in tasks that use your hands, reduce the force. Most people use far more force than necessary. Relax and reduce your force to prevent problems.
  • Tip #3 – Pay Attention to Your Form – Make sure you keep your wrist in a relaxed position. Avoid bending it all the way down or up. When using a computer keyboard, ensure it’s at elbow height, or you can have it just a bit lower.
  • Tip #4 – Perfect Your Posture – If you don’t have the proper posture while working, your shoulders may roll forward, and this causes the shoulder and neck muscles to shorten, which may compress the nerves in the neck. This has the ability to affect the hands, fingers, and wrists. Focus on perfect posture that keeps the shoulders back and the neck straight.
  • Tip #5 – Ensure Hands Stay Warm – You’re more likely to deal with wrist and hand stiffness and pain if your hands get cold. Even if you’re unable to control your work temperature, you can add some fingerless gloves that keep the wrists and hands warm while allowing you to easily move your fingers.

Seeking Medical Care for Your Symptoms

In most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome starts gradually with a bit of tingling or numbness in the middle finger, index finger, or thumb. The symptoms may simply come and go, and you may experience some discomfort in the hand or wrist. Along with the common numbness and tingling symptoms, some people may notice that their hand becomes weak and they become more likely to drop items.

Unfortunately, this syndrome is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms can be indicative of other medical problems as well. This means it’s important to seek medical care if you have persistent symptoms that may suggest carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s particularly important to visit a doctor if the symptoms are interfering with your day-to-day activities. Permanent muscle and nerve damage may occur if the condition is left untreated. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms, call Complete Neurological Care today to book your appointment.

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