Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused because of compression of the median nerve at the wrist (in the carpal tunnel). Compression of the nerve causes symptoms such as numbness, pain and, eventually, hand weakness—the characteristic features of carpal tunnel syndrome. If it is diagnosed timely and treated appropriately, CTS responds well. However there are no known medical interventions or proven treatment procedures to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
Some strategies which can minimize stress on your hands and wrists include:
- Use less force and relax your grip: When working with hands, many people use more force than needed to perform many tasks. For example, if you work at the billing counter, hit the keys softly on the keypad, or if you have to write a lot, use a big pen with an oversized, soft grip adapter and free-flowing ink. These decrease the stress on your wrist.
- Take frequent breaks: Relax your hands and wrists by taking frequent breaks and gently stretching and bending them periodically. If you work with equipment that vibrate or require you to exert a great amount of force, it becomes even more important to take breaks to relax your hands.
- Watch your hand posture: While working, avoid bending your wrist to its maximum (all the way up or down). Keep them in a relaxed middle position as this is the ideal for reducing stress. If you work on a keyboard, it is preferable to keep it at elbow height or slightly lower.
- Improve your posture: If your posture is not right, it can cause your shoulders to roll forward. In this position of the shoulder, the neck and shoulder muscles are shortened, which can compress nerves in your neck. This can have an effect on your wrists, fingers and hands.
- Keep your hands warm: Hand pain and stiffness develop more often in people who work in a cold environment. If it is not possible to control the temperature at work, you can keep your fingers and wrist warm by putting on fingerless gloves.
- Treat the underlying disorder: In many cases, carpal tunnel syndrome starts following a wrist injury or a bone condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Treating the underlying disease may help to relieve your symptoms and prevent them from recurring. For example, if CTS develops in a person with rheumatoid arthritis, the rheumatologist (a specialist in conditions that affect the muscles and joints) may prescribe an anti-rheumatic medicine to slow down the condition’s progress and prevent joint damage.
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