How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel

How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel is a growing problem around the world. People are spending more time than ever in front of computers, and as a result, they increase their risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

Many people might think carpal tunnel syndrome is unavoidable because of their career and lifestyle. However, you can learn how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by making a few adjustments to your lifestyle. 

To learn how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you must identify its causes. You need to understand what you are doing to put yourself at risk. Here we are going to look at risk factors, symptoms, and how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What Is It?

Carpal tunnel is a condition people can develop after putting too much pressure on their median nerve. The median nerve is a nerve in your wrist, and the carpal tunnel refers to the narrowness of this passage in the wrist.

Bones and ligaments surround the carpal tunnel on the bottom of the hand. When too much pressure is put on your carpal tunnel, the median nerve gets compressed. Compression on the median nerve can result in tingling, weakness, and numbness.

Carpal tunnel can be very painful and limiting. People with carpal tunnel lose some of their range of motion, and they are unable to perform many daily tasks without pain. Fortunately, you can treat carpal tunnel and restore yourself to full health. 

What Are the Symptoms?

woman holding her wrist in pain

Before we can teach you how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you need to know what symptoms can arise. 

Tingling or Numbness

When you start to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, you will likely feel a tingling feeling in your hand. As the condition progresses, it might turn to complete numbness.

All fingers are likely to be affected by this feeling except for your pinky finger. It is possible for tingling and numbness to proceed up your arm. 

You probably will not have these sensations at all times unless you let them linger for a long time. Instead, they will pop up when you are doing dexterous activities with your hands. For example, holding the steering wheel, using your phone, or moving a computer mouse is likely to bring about symptoms.

Weakness

The other common symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is weakness. You might not feel as strong in your hands and wrists as you did before developing this condition. It is common for people with carpal tunnel to unexpectedly drop objects they should be able to carry easily. 

Learn How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

woman at a computer holding her wrist in pain from carpal tunnel

Unfortunately, most people can't avoid all activities that can cause carpal tunnel. Most people need to spend some time in front of a desk at their computer for work.

As a result, they will spend several hours moving their computer mouse and putting themselves at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Although some things are unavoidable, there are still several things you can do to learn how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Take Frequent Breaks

The best way to prevent carpal tunnel is to take frequent breaks when doing things that could put you at risk. If you need to spend lots of time at your computer for work, try to take a 10-minute break every hour.

Even a short five-minute break is better than nothing. By giving your body rest, you will slow the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Use a Softer Touch

When performing tasks, it is easy to put more physical effort into them than is needed. You might not even think about it, but gripping something too hard can aggravate your median nerve.

For example, gripping your toothbrush too tight while brushing your teeth can aggravate your wrist if done consistently. So, when you go about your day, try to do things with a softer touch.

You will be surprised how much relief your body gets simply from relaxing while doing activities. People who work with tools will notice a significant difference in how they feel, as will people who work at their computers. 

Take Extra Time to Stretch

woman stretching her wrist while working at computer

Another thing you can do is take time to stretch every day. Your wrist might not be under the same stress as your joints when you lift heavy weights or go for long runs, but you should still stretch it

One of the easiest stretches is to make a fist with your hand. Next, open your hand until your fingers are completely straight. Do this 5 to 10 times.

You can do this stretch several times throughout the day. The best thing about this stretch is you do not need to dedicate time to do it. You can do it while you are watching TV on the couch. 

A more complex version of this stretch is to make a fist and release your fingers by fanning them out. Next, stretch them as far as they can go.

You can then repeat those steps 5 to 10 times. Doing so provides a deeper stretch than the initial process, and can still be done from the comfort of your couch. 

Change How You Move Your Hands and Wrists

Carpal tunnel syndrome is often caused by repeating the same movements over and over again. You can reduce your risk of carpal tunnel by making moderate adjustments to how you move your hands and wrists.

For example, if you spend all day at your computer moving your mouse, switch to the other hand. It might feel weird to use your off-hand, but you will get used to it. 

Alternatively, you can mix up the tasks you are doing to give your muscles a break. What we mean by this is that if you have five tasks to complete, switch to another task after getting halfway through the first one.

You can switch between the tasks, getting halfway done each of them before returning to complete them in the same order. 

Try Keeping Your Wrists in a Neutral Position

person holding arm up in wrist brace

One of the best things you can do to learn how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is to keep your wrists as neutral as possible. When you are typing on your keyboard, do not allow your wrist to bend much up or down.

Bending your wrist puts pressure on your median nerve, so by keeping them neutral, you are relieving pressure on your wrist. A carpal tunnel wrist brace can help maintain neutral position while doing daily activities.

If you already have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, you can wear a brace in your sleep to avoid contorting your wrist at night. It is common for people to bend their bodies in strange positions while they are asleep.

Doing so can cause aggravations, especially when you already have conditions with your nerves and joints. 

Work On Your Posture

You might not think your posture has anything to do with how your wrist feels, but it can make a huge difference. Poor posture can have several negative effects on your body.

It commonly causes your shoulders to move forward, which can cause several other things to happen. The nerves in your neck get crunched, and this can cause your wrist problems to worsen. So, try to sit up straight and keep your shoulders in a healthy position when you are at work. 

Keep Yourself Warm

If you are looking for home remedies for carpal tunnel, one of the best things you can do is keep yourself warm. When you are cold, your body gets stiff. When you are stiff, it is easier to constrict the median nerve in your wrist.

As a result, you should try to keep your hands warm. We understand you need the dexterity of your fingers to perform tasks, but even wearing fingerless gloves can help a lot.

Get a Carpal Tunnel Massage

professional giving a patient a hand massage

If nothing is working, you can get a carpal tunnel massage to ease your pain and alleviate symptoms. You can get the massage from a professional, or get a friend to do it.

Either way, it is crucial to ensure it is performed correctly. You should not perform the massage yourself because you need two thumbs to do it correctly. 

To get what you need out of a carpal tunnel massage, you cannot stop after one massage. Instead, you must get a massage every day for a few weeks. You should receive the massage for 15 minutes each time. 

A proper carpal tunnel massage involves applying pressure on the carpal tunnel area of your wrist with two thumbs. The massager should apply equal pressure with both thumbs and move their thumbs in circular motions.

Doing so will drain the fluid buildup in your wrist. As the fluid drains from your wrist, the pressure on your median nerve will release. 

Get Carpal Tunnel Injection

The final thing you can do to treat carpal tunnel syndrome is get a carpal tunnel injection. To perform the injection, a doctor will need to perform an ultrasound on your wrist.

An ultrasound is a process of taking pictures of areas underneath your skin. Commonly, they are used to look at babies in the womb, but they can be used in other instances. 

An ultrasound can show whether your median nerve is swelling and what the causes are. Once the ultrasound is complete, your doctor will know where to inject the needle to relieve the swelling.

The injection will include a small dose of steroids and a local anesthetic. Usually, this procedure is only performed on people with severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Talk to Your Manager or Supervisor About Your Condition

In most cases, carpal tunnel is the result of spending too much time on work-related tasks. If this is the case, you should speak to your manager.

Let them know you are experiencing pain and are unable to perform some tasks to the best of your ability. They may be able to help you by altering your work setup or giving you tasks that will put less stress on your wrist. We know not everyone has reasonable managers, but it is worth a try. 

When Should You See a Doctor?

person consulting with doctor about wrist pain

So, when should you see a doctor about carpal tunnel syndrome? We recommend seeing a doctor once you show any signs of developing carpal tunnel.

Carpal tunnel gets worse the longer it goes untreated, so it is smart to get ahead of it. Go to the doctor early and you will experience less pain. 

Furthermore, you need to go to the doctor for more reasons than to just avoid pain. If carpal tunnel goes untreated, you can get permanent nerve damage. So, go see your doctor so that you can retain full functioning in your hands and wrists.

A Doctor Will Likely Refer You to an Occupational Therapist

If you visit your family doctor, they will be able to assess your condition and give you a course of treatment. However, they are unlikely to have specialized knowledge of carpal tunnel and how to treat it.

As a result, they will probably refer you to an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists know everything there is to know about carpal tunnel, and as a result, they will be able to treat your condition. 

Your occupational therapist will assess the severity of your condition. Once they know how bad your carpal tunnel is, they can show you how to treat it.

They will provide you with stretches and hand-strengthening exercises to ensure you ease as much stress on your wrists as possible. The exercises you show you are exercises you should perform every day.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there are several conditions you can develop by simply living your life. It is impossible to avoid all medical conditions as you go through life, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

Notably, carpal tunnel syndrome is much more common in people in the 21st century. Spending more time sitting at our desks and repeating dexterous motions with our wrists can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to learn how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. You can take breaks, use a softer touch, wear a wrist brace, stretch daily, or do several other things. By using any of the suggestions discussed above, you have a better chance of avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome.