If you spend most of your day typing at a computer, assembling small objects, or using handheld power tools, you may have concerns about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Repetitive hand and wrist movements put you at risk of developing this common pain condition.
But carpal tunnel syndrome often occurs from a combination of factors. Though there’s no single strategy that can prevent you from getting CTS, you could lower your risk by making a few changes to your daily routine.
While we personalize care based on severity of symptoms, we always take a conservative approach first, which includes modifying the routines that aggravate carpal tunnel symptoms.
Here, we want to talk to you about carpal tunnel syndrome and what steps you can take now that might prevent problems in the future.
Carpal tunnel syndrome 101
The median nerve is a sensory nerve for your thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. It also controls the muscle at the base of your thumb. The carpal tunnel is a narrow rigid tube that serves as a passageway for the median nerve and tendons from your forearm into your hand.
If the space in the carpal tunnel shrinks, it compresses the median nerve, causing tingling or numbness in the hand.
Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome
In most cases, there’s no single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, but a combination of factors increases pressure on the nerve as it goes through the carpal tunnel. Common contributing causes include:
Your genes play a significant role in your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. You may simply inherit anatomical features that make your carpal tunnel smaller.
Repetitive hand and wrist movements
Engaging in activities that require repetitive hand or wrist movements, like painting or assembly line work, irritates the structures in the wrist. This irritation causes swelling that puts extra pressure on the nerve.
Position of the hand or wrist
Keeping your hand or wrist in a bent or flexed position over a long period of time may increase pressure on the median nerve. Many people first notice CTS symptoms when they wake up in the morning because they sleep with their wrists in a bent position.
CTS is more common in people with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid conditions. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy may also cause swelling that puts pressure on the nerve.
Preventing carpal tunnel syndrome
Unfortunately, you can’t control all the factors that cause carpal tunnel syndrome. But making changes to your daily routine to reduce pressure and stress on the nerve may help.
- Giving your hands and wrist a break
- Regularly stretching your hands and wrists
- Alternating activities
- Using a softer grip
- Sitting up straight
- Keeping your wrists straight
- Creating an ergonomic work environment
- Wearing wrist splints while you sleep
If you have numbness or tingling in your hand, it’s time to schedule an appointment with one of our experts. Reducing stress on your wrist can ease symptoms, but without proper treatment, CTS gets worse over time and may cause permanent nerve damage.
Preventing carpal tunnel syndrome may not be possible in all circumstances, but finding ways to reduce stress and strain on your hands and wrists might help.
Don’t ignore the early morning tingling and numbness in your hands. We can design a plan to manage these CTS symptoms, potentially preventing the need for more invasive treatments. Call our office to request an appointment today.