There is an ever-present injury that plagues many individuals who are glued to their computer keyboards day in and day out. If you are someone who has started to experience pain or swelling in the wrist or thumb, you may be suffering from the beginning stages of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
There is a particular nerve within the hand referred to as the median nerve which extends through a very narrow tunnel in the wrist and travels into the hand. When the carpal tunnel or surrounding tendons become inflamed, they can place pressure on and aggravate the median nerve causing a discomfort known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Other symptoms of CTS include numbness, tingling, sharp pain, and stiffness. If you feel doomed to suffer from carpal tunnel pain, don’t throw in the towel just yet! Check out these tips to both prevent and manage this common issue:
Support your wrists
Supporting your wrists is essential when you use the computer. Any bending or odd angles that your wrists or hands may take on while you tap away at your keyboard endlessly could compromise the median nerve. Use a gel cushion to maintain a neutral position and ensure complete and total support of your wrists when typing at a computer. This gives your wrists somewhere to rest comfortably while your hands are free to continue to navigate the keyboard.
Always make sure you are keeping your hands and wrists in a relaxed, unstrained position whenever possible too. If you do start to experience a lot of discomforts, experts recommending using a wrist splint or brace to stabilize the carpal tunnel and alleviate pressure on the nerve. If wearing one seems uncomfortable throughout the course of your day, try wearing one at night while you sleep.
No matter how tempted you may be to power through when you have a big presentation to write or a 100 emails to reply to, you must make sure to allow your wrists time to relax. In reality, you don’t have to take a long break, 2-3 minutes will suffice.
During this break, it’s imperative to bend, stretch and roll your wrists forwards and backward to alleviate joint stiffness and boost blood flow. Anytime you are performing repetitive motions with the hands, it’s essential to take necessary lengths of time to interrupt the constant and consistent movement of your wrists, hands, and fingers.
Improve your posture
This is especially true for those of you who sit at your desks for hours trying to drill out high amounts of output. When you have poor posture while sitting in front of a computer, your shoulders tend to hunch and roll forward. This dramatically affects the shoulder and neck muscles which are then shortened and compressed.
Poor posture can cause severe neck pain, and this specific type of neck compression can shoot down shoulders and into your forearms and wrists. It’s commonly forgotten how interconnected the body is and how a misalignment that starts at the top of your spine can inadvertently cause pain and issues throughout the body.
These are great, not just for when you’re working on the computer but if you have to do a lot of heavy lifting or you enjoy the practice of yoga, which includes a lot of wrist work. Strengthening your wrists can help thwart any pain you may otherwise experience. Try these exercises for increased wrist strength.
- Squeeze a stress ball for at least 30 seconds to activate the muscles and tendons in your wrist. Hold and release 2-3 times.
- Use one hand to pull the fingers of the other hand back gently and towards your body, do this once with your fingers pointing upwards and once with them pointing down.
Hold your hands out in front of you, fingers a good distance apart and stretch your thumbs into the inside of your palms quickly for 8-10 counts.