Tips for Preventing Carpal Tunnel in an Office Job

You’ve probably heard that if you have a desk job involving a lot of time at a keyboard, you’re at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have this condition, your median nerve, which runs from your forearm through your wrist into your hand, is compressed. This can happen due to repetitive movements that cause inflammation of the carpal tunnel, through which this nerve runs.

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes:

The discomfort interferes with sleep, driving, and many workplace tasks. The pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand and fingers that results from carpal tunnel syndrome can radiate up your arm. It leads to arm and hand weakness, particularly when making pinching motions, and can interfere with driving and typing. The pain can even make it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

Becoming aware of how your use your hands throughout the day when you’re on the job can help you avoid this debilitating condition. Small changes to your workplace and routine go a long way in preventing the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. An ergonomic work area promotes good wrist and forearm position, which can help prevent carpal tunnel and other orthopedic issues in your elbows and shoulders. 

Here are some tips from our medical team at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists.

Manage your risks

Diabetics and those who are overweight are at a greater risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Keep up with management of your diabetes and maintain a healthy weight to help discourage carpal tunnel’s evolution.

Position your work in the center

Your work station where you type or write should be centered directly in front of you. The station should be as low as possible, but not sitting on your legs. Keep your forearms parallel to the floor or slightly lower. A standing desk is best positioned at waist height.

When you do type, hold your elbows close to your sides and avoid leaning weight into your hands.

Alignment matters

The alignment of your wrists and forearms are important when it comes to preventing carpal tunnel. A tilted keyboard helps you keep your wrists and forearms in the same plane as you type. When you hold a computer mouse, keep your wrist neutral. You don’t want it to curl upward or cave downward.

Take breaks

Take frequent breaks when at your job. It’s easy to lose track of time when you have a desk job and are deeply involved in a project. Set a timer on your phone so you’re reminded to give yourself a break at least every hour, and preferably more often.

During these breaks, actively roll out your wrists front and back and side to side, and take a walk to grab a drink at the water cooler.

Exercise relief

Inflammation of the carpal tunnel can occur because of repetitive movement with little to no variation. Stretch your wrists regularly, flex them back and forth, and shake them somewhat vigorously to make sure circulation is pumping.

Simply holding your fingers open wide for a few seconds and then relaxing them can help, especially if you repeat the steps several times. Our occupational therapist can help with other movements to reduce inflammation and improve your wrist’s function. 

If you feel symptoms of carpal tunnel emerging, though, don’t ignore them. Smart steps at work can help the problem from worsening, but we can offer other early treatment, such as splints or physical therapy so you avoid complications and serious dysfunction. 

Call us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists or book a consultation using the online tool to learn how we can address your concerns about carpal tunnel syndrome. 

 

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