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Carpal Tunnel

Those of us with jobs that require repetitive hand or wrist movement including driving, working with small instruments, or frequent typing have an increased risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and other symptoms in the hand and arm. Carpal tunnel may also cause discomfort in the wrist and the palm of your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually start gradually. The first symptoms often include numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, and middle fingers.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve runs from the forearm through a passageway in the wrist to your hand. It provides sensation to the palm side of your thumb and fingers. It also provides nerve signals to move the muscles around the base of your thumb. Anything that squeezes or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A wrist fracture can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve, as can swelling and inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis. Don’t wait until you have symptoms to take preventative measures. Workstation changes, such as proper lighting and seating and hand/wrist placement can help decrease some factors that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

You may not know that many health conditions and diseases make you more likely to get carpal tunnel symptoms. But if you exercise, stay at a healthy weight, control other health conditions such as arthritis and diabetes, and avoid smoking, you can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

In addition, arranging your activity and workspace using ergonomic guidelines can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Evaluating your daily routine for activities that increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome is always a good idea, as is taking frequent breaks from activities to rest, stretch, change positions, or alternate with another activity.

Other ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome are to reduce force and relax your grip (i.e. if you work on a keyboard, hit the keys softly), to watch your form (i.e. avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down), and to keep your hands warm (you’re more likely to develop pain and stiffness in a cold environment).

Carpal tunnel is no picnic. Proper prevention can help ensure you maintain full function of your hands and wrists while staving off pain and stiffness. For more information about carpal tunnel syndrome prevention and/or symptom relief, call one of our offices to book an appointment.


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