How to Avoid Wrist Pain While Working an Office Job

What comes to mind when you think of the typical American worker? A century or even 50 years ago, it would probably be a factory worker or farmer using physical labor to earn their pay. Today, you probably picture a professional sitting in the middle of a cubicle using mental labor to earn their paycheck. Through sitting at a desk may be safer, that doesn’t mean there’s no risk of suffering an injury.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, carpal tunnel syndrome affects more than 8 million people each year. Additionally, carpal tunnel surgery is the second most popular musculoskeletal surgery, right behind back surgery. With a few tweaks to your daily routine, you can avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and keep your wrists healthy.

Do you work in an office and think that you may be developing carpal tunnel syndrome? Come see us at The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. We’ll give you a thorough examination and put you on the path to pain-free living.

Carpal tunnel basics

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in your wrist that houses and protects the median nerve. This nerve provides sensation to your palm, thumb and first three fingers. It also carries nerve signals to move the muscles around your thumb. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes pressed or squeezed in the wrist area. Although small in impact, the repeated action of typing and using a mouse can cause enough pressure to aggravate the median nerve. As these actions are repeated every day for multiple hours, the median nerve can get squeezed more and more, and the condition can worsen.

Carpal tunnel symptoms

Like many overuse injuries, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually start slowly, with a slight feeling of numbness, tingling, burning, or pain. You’ll primarily feel this in your thumb and your index, middle, and ring fingers. You may also notice a feeling of weakness in the hand and an increased frequency in dropping objects.

Over time, the numbness, tingling, burning, and pain may get worse. When left untreated, your hand may feel constantly numb. This numbness can further inhibit your ability to grip objects, and your hand may lose the ability to feel hot and cold. Furthermore, you may feel pain when completing the actions that caused the syndrome to develop. This means typing and using a mouse may become agonizing.

Treatment

The orthopedic specialists at The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine offer customized treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. If your condition is diagnosed early, it can be treated with conservative treatments, such as splinting, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroid injections. As inflammation subsides, symptoms usually fade as well.

If your carpal tunnel condition doesn’t respond to these treatments, surgery may be necessary. During carpal tunnel surgery, your doctor will work to release your carpal ligament and relieve the pressure on your median nerve.

Avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome

The best way to avoid invasive wrist surgery is to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from developing. To help prevent the condition from starting, follow the tips below: 

Use a softer touch

Have you ever been told that you type loudly or click aggressively? The more forceful you work, the more likely you will be to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Try to go easy on your mouse and keyboard. 

Take breaks

Sit back for a second to stretch your hands and fingers. Make sure to shake out your wrists and bend your palms back and forth. Also, try to break up long periods of repetitive motion with other activities. For example, switch between typing and speaking on the phone.

Use good posture 

Your body position can impact the amount of pressure you put on your arms and wrists. To keep your wrists happy, try to adopt a typing form that doesn’t push them up or down. Your keyboard should be about even with your elbows when sitting.

Make a fashion statement 

Many offices are infamously frigid. Cold hands are more likely to get painful or stiff. To beat the cold, try fingerless gloves. Although not super fashionable, you’ll end the day with healthy hands.

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome and need treatment or you want to learn more ways to prevent it, book an appointment online or over the phone with The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine today.

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