If many of your coworkers complain about hand pain because of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), you may worry you’re next.
Though there are work-related activities that seem to increase a person’s risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s usually a combination of factors that leads to this common hand pain condition.
That being said, even if you are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, there are things you can do that might prevent it.
At Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California, most of our carpal tunnel syndrome patients visit our team when their symptoms are so severe it affects their day-to-day routine.
Many of the conservative treatments we recommend for our CTS patients may prevent the pain condition from developing in the first place. Let’s take a look at what you can do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
About carpal tunnel syndrome
In order to understand how you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you need to first understand what it is. CTS develops when there’s pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in your wrist.
Your median nerve is a sensory and motor nerve that provides feeling in your thumb, index, middle, and ring finger, and muscle movement at the base of your thumb. The carpal tunnel is a narrow and rigid passageway, made up of a semicircle of bones covered and held together by a ligament.
Pressure on the nerve occurs when you have narrowing of the carpal tunnel or inflammation of the flexor tendon that also travels through this tiny passageway.
Am I at risk?
Anyone can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, but there are factors that may put you at greater risk, such as:
- Heredity — anatomically smaller carpal tunnel
- Injury to the wrist
- Rheumatoid arthritis or gout
- Thyroid hormone imbalance
Many of these factors may be out of your control, but how you use your hands and wrists also increases your risk of developing CTS.
Activities that require repetitive finger, hand, or wrist movement — for example, typing or assembly line work — aggravate the tendons in your wrist, causing swelling and inflammation of the tissue and compression of the median nerve.
Use of vibrating hand tools like a jackhammer may aggravate these tendons, too. Keeping your hands or wrists in a bent or extended position for a long period of time may also put pressure on the median nerve, causing CTS.
Preventing carpal tunnel syndrome
There are things you can do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, even if you have uncontrollable risk factors.
First, focus on making a few changes to your daily routine to minimize stress on your hands and wrists, such as alternating activities to minimize repetitive movements, taking breaks every 15 minutes, and stretching your hands and wrists every 60 minutes.
Create an ergonomically correct workspace that allows you to keep your body in proper alignment. For example, adjusting your chair and desk so your forearms are level with your work area and moving your keyboard and mouse so you can keep your wrists in a neutral position (not bent or extended).
Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight may improve your overall health and any chronic health condition that increases your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome such as diabetes.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is preventable, but if you have CTS symptoms, don’t wait to get help. An early diagnosis and treatment plan may prevent prolonged pain or permanent nerve damage.
We can help you manage your carpal tunnel syndrome. Call our office today to request an appointment.