You’re working at your desk, trying to ignore the tingling sensation creeping through your hands. Suddenly, a sharp pain shoots through your wrist and up your arm, causing you to go numb and immediately stop what you were doing.
You might be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, a progressive condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. It can lead to numbness, tingling and other indescribable symptoms that can keep you from excelling in work or participating in your favorite hobbies.
Although at times it might seem like the pain is never ending, there are ways stop it before it even starts. These 10 tips will help prevent pain so that you can keep doing the things you love.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Avoiding the pain of carpal tunnel altogether would be best, but when that’s not an option there are some strategies that can help lessen the pain. Although these strategies (adapted from information provided by the Mayo Clinic) are not 100% proven, they will minimize the stress on your hands and wrists and may make a difference.
Relax Your Grip – Loosen up the grip you have on pens, pencils, or other writing materials. Using a molded grip can help reduce hand pain and cramping.
Reduce Force – While you’re at it, reduce the amount of pressure you apply when writing. There is no need to push hard on the paper when writing or walloping on the keys when typing. If you find that you need to use excess force, look into changing your equipment so you don’t need to push yourself.
In Typing, Form Matters – When sitting at your desk, think about your form. Be careful not to bend your wrists at a harsh angle – either up or down.
Improve Your Posture – Bad posture can cause more than just a backache. Poor posture will make your neck, arms, and yes, even your wrists sore.
Keep Your Hands Warm – Hand pain and stiffness is more likely to occur when your hands are cold. Keep the air warm or consider wearing fingerless gloves.
Take Plenty of Breaks – Don’t just push through the day, especially if you do lots of typing, writing or other work with your hands. Breaks will help you keep from over-exerting yourself.
Stay Hydrated – Good hydration is vital to good health. It’s important for every aspect of a healthy body – even your wrists.
Wear Your Braces (If Recommended) – If your doctor has recommended a brace, wear it. They may slow you down a bit or feel awkward at first, but in many cases, it can make a significant difference in prevention.
Consider Alternative Medicine – Ultrasound therapy and yoga have both been shown to have a positive effect on the hands and wrists. Check with your primary physician to learn more about what could best help you.
Stretch – If you are going to be doing an activity that involves your wrists, make sure you stretch before and after. This simple step can help you avoid over-doing it and will get your wrists ready for the work ahead.
The More You Know
According to the American Family Physician, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common nerve disorders, affecting approximately 3-6% of adults in the general population. These facts will help keep you “in the know” and might help you or a loved one:
- Over-the-counter pain relief medication can be a big help for carpal tunnel pain. Aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) and Naproxen (Aleve) are all good choices. Talk to your doctor about which is best for you.
- A wrist splint can sometimes help relieve carpal tunnel pain. If you are unable to wear one during the day, wearing one at night can help. You can find wrist splints over the counter at a drug store or online.
- The way you sleep can have an effect on wrist pain. Sleeping on your hands or wrists can make carpal tunnel pain worse. Try sleeping on your back or side to avoid putting pressure on your wrists.
- It’s possible to have carpal tunnel syndrome and not realize it. Some people experience tingling or numbness and no pain. If you are experiencing strange sensations in the hand and are unsure of the cause, it is worth talking to your doctor.
- Over time, untreated or worsening carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to weakness in the wrists and hands. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about surgical options. Don’t dismiss this treatment option – it may be worth it to protect your strength in the long run.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist/hand health. If you are concerned about this aspect of your health and wellness, you should speak with your doctor right away. It is worth opening the lines of communication, as you may be able to reduce your pain or prevent further injury, leading to a healthier, happier life.