Introduction

If you spend a lot of time doing
activities that involve forceful or repetitive hand or wrist movement or use of
vibrating equipment, you have an increased risk for
carpal tunnel syndrome. These activities can include
driving, working with small instruments, knitting, or using a sander. You can
reduce your risk-and any hand pain or weakness you may already have-by taking a
few simple steps.

  • Many health conditions and diseases make you
    more likely to get carpal tunnel symptoms. But if you exercise, stay at a
    healthy weight, control other health conditions such as arthritis and diabetes,
    and avoid smoking, you can help prevent carpal tunnel
    syndrome.
  • Arranging your activity and work space using
    ergonomic guidelines can help prevent carpal tunnel
    syndrome. Office ergonomics focuses on how a workstation is set up, including
    the placement of your desk, computer monitor, paperwork, chair, and associated
    tools, such as a computer keyboard and mouse. The same ideas can help you
    arrange your position for other daily activities.
  • Proper body
    mechanics are key to preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Evaluate
    your daily routine for
    activities that increase your risk of carpal tunnel
    syndrome.
  • Take frequent breaks from activities to rest, stretch, change
    positions, or alternate with another activity.

How can you prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?

Don’t wait
till you have symptoms to take preventive measures. Increase your awareness of
how you use your hands and equipment throughout the day, and make some
changes. Many different kinds of activity can cause carpal tunnel
syndrome.

Use an
ergonomically correct workstation setup and posture. You can
adjust your working environment and how you use it. You can also use a similar setup for other work areas, such as where you do your hobbies
or work with hand tools.

When setting up your work area:

  • Center your work in front of you, as low as
    possible without touching your legs (your forearms are parallel to the floor or
    slightly lowered). If you work while standing, have your work surface at about
    waist height.
  • Keep your hands and wrists in line with your
    forearms. For example, if you work at a keyboard, tilt it to help keep this alignment. Use
    proper hand and wrist position for manual tasks.
  • Hold your elbows close to your
    sides.
  • Avoid leaning on the heel of your hand or your
    wrist.
  • Take little breaks every 10 to 15 minutes. Use a reminder
    alarm if needed.
  • Do
    stretching exercises every 20 to 60 minutes.

Consider trying a different tool or grip. Many people benefit from using a split, V-shaped keyboard. If
possible, try one for at least a week. One style may work well for you while
another doesn’t. When using other equipment, try changing the way you hold the
tool. You may also be able to switch hands now and then when using some
tools.

Consider trying wrist splints.
If you have carpal tunnel symptoms and have trouble
training your wrists to stay straight, try wearing
wrist splints for temporary relief. These splints are
not meant to be worn over a long period of time. But wearing them whenever you
are sleeping can help you manage carpal tunnel syndrome over the long term.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Herbert von Schroeder, MD, MSc, FRCSC – Hand and Microvascular Surgery

Current as ofMarch 21, 2017