Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

It is compression of a nerve at your wrist, which can cause numbness, tingling and pain in your palm, thumb, and most of your fingertips (depicted in blue in the picture).

Causes include:
- poor wrist/arm positioning at a computer
- repetitive hand and wrist work (eg cooks, musicians, painters), especially in cold temperatures
- physical work involving vibration (such as driving motorbike, operating a drill)
- pregnancy, diabetes and being overweight are all linked to carpal tunnel syndrome, as are our genetics.
- women are at higher risk than men.
Symptoms generally start as mild, some can get better on their own, but others can get worse over time.

Prevention:

Anyone who does repetitive tasks should begin with a short warm-up period, take regular breaks, and avoid overexertion of the hand and finger muscles whenever possible.

1. Take multiple breaks:

  • Shake or stretch the limbs
  • Lean back in the chair
  • Gently squeeze the shoulder blades together
  • Stand up and walk around.

2. Good Posture, especially for typists and computer users.

  • sit back into the chair with the shoulders relaxed.
  • elbows should rest along the sides of the body, with wrists straight.
  • feet should be firmly on the floor or on a footrest.
  • typing materials and computer screen should be at eye level so that the neck does not bend over the work.

3. Good desk and chair.

Chairs should be adjustable for height, with a supportive backrest. Sit well into your chair to get the support out of it, and keep your chair close to the desk.

4. Keyboard and Mouse Tips.

  • Keep the hands and wrists in a relaxed position to avoid excessive force on the keyboard.
  • Use wrist rests, which fit under most keyboards, to help keep the wrists and fingers in a comfortable position.
  • Keep the computer mouse close to the keyboard and the user’s body, to reduce excessive strain.
  • Hold the mouse lightly, with the wrist and forearm relaxed. New mouse supports are also available that relieve stress on the hand and support the wrist.

If you think you may have carpal tunnel syndrome and it doesn’t go away with the above advice, best to get it assessed as it might be a pinched nerve coming from the neck, or it might just need more treatment than the advice above. Give us a call on 0404-49781 or email info@eastcoastphysio.ie.

The team at East Coast Physio are by far one of the best I have encountered. They have consistently allowed me to compete at my best and have helped me return to competition following serious injury. The level of expertise provided is hard to find elsewhere. The attention to detail and professionalism is what stands out from day one.

Tadhg Cronin
Dublin. Triathlete