If your job requires you to move your arms and hands in the same repeated pattern, you’re at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Over time, the repetitive movement squeezes your median nerve, which runs through a narrow tube called the carpal tunnel in your hand and arm. Inflammation in that area leads to further discomfort and causes the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), such as tingling, numbness, pain, dropping things, and hand weakness.
Our team at Crescent City Orthopedics in Metairie, Louisiana specializes in orthopedic issues like carpal tunnel syndrome and can help you find relief from your symptoms. Meanwhile, here are some jobs that may put you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as a few things you can try at work to help alleviate it on your own.
Some jobs put you at greater risk for carpal tunnel syndrome than others. Here are some of the most common:
Incidentally, your job isn’t the only thing that can put you at risk for CTS. Your hobbies can, as well. Do you knit or crochet, play video games, or text a lot? Anyone who engages in unidirectional movement or even static flexion, especially in sustained cold conditions, can end up with CTS.
It’s bad enough that you have to deal with your CTS symptoms, but research shows that you’re not the only one who suffers. Employers report that CTS accounts for the highest number of days missed at work, with nearly half of all reported cases resulting in 31 or more workdays lost. To avoid becoming one of those statistics, try these tips while you’re on the job.
If you use tools repetitively — and that includes keyboards, musical instruments, mechanical devices, etc. — opt for ergonomic designs that keep your hands, wrists, and arms aligned in a natural position. The more you use these tools at an angle that compresses your median nerve, the more you put yourself at risk for CTS.
Just like you would stretch and warm up your muscles before running or playing a sport, your hands and wrists will perform better if you get them limber before work. Gently extend your fingers and then flex your fists alternately for a couple of minutes. Some people also find that squeezing a stress ball helps keep their hands and fingers in top condition. Take the time to change the motion and direction of your hands at least once every hour to help ward off CTS.
One of the most common causes of CTS is poor posture at the keyboard. If you slouch at your desk, your whole body changes position, including your arms, wrists, and hands. To give yourself the best shot at beating CTS, sit up straight and make sure your desk supports your wrist at a right angle. This keeps pressure off your median nerve and CTS at bay.
When your job calls on you to use the same muscles in your hands and wrists for long periods of time, rest is essential. Stand up and walk away from your computer, set down your tools and instruments, and give your body a break. Focus on relaxing your muscles, massage your hands and wrists lightly to get your circulation going, and gently shake your arms to encourage them to release that static position they’ve been holding onto.
Many CTS suffers like to wear fingerless gloves at work to encourage warm hands and proper blood flow. For a little extra support, you can pick up a wrist splint at most drugstores to help stabilize weak wrists.
These tips can all help you avoid or alleviate most carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, but if you need more advanced help to overcome severe symptoms, you can trust our team at Crescent City Orthopedics to help you heal and get back to work. We offer anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, steroid injections, and even surgery if necessary.
Call our office today or request an appointment online to find out the best treatment plan for your carpal tunnel symptoms, so you can get back to doing the things you love.