Working in an office isn’t inherently hazardous. However, sitting at a computer for several hours each day can place strain on certain areas of the body. For example, hunching over a computer can put your spine out of alignment and increase the risk of back pain.

If you type a lot, you’re at particular risk for issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when a nerve in the hand becomes entrapped.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can develop as a result of repetitive motions, such as typing on a computer. However, if you work in an office, carpal tunnel isn’t inevitable. You can take several steps to reduce your risk.

In this post, the team at LA Orthopaedic Specialists offer practical tips for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in your wrist that surrounds the median nerve as it flows into your hand. Repetitive motions from typing can irritate the median nerve and cause inflammation within this small space. Warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Numbness, tingling in the wrist or hand
  • Tingling in the fingers
  • Hand weakness
  • Numbness in the forearm and shoulder
  • Other abnormal sensations in the hand or arm, such as burning

Abnormal sensations may accompany other symptoms, such as  swelling. Your LA Orthopaedic Specialists provider will perform a thorough evaluation and rule out conditions with overlapping symptoms, such as tendinitis.

Practical steps for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among office workers, and women are at a higher risk. However, you can take steps to lower your risk.

Use a neutral risk position

When you’re working for an extended period on a computer, it’s important to hold your wrists in a neutral position. Many people have the tendency to hold their wrists in a flexed position, which puts added strain on the wrist and raises the risk for pain.

Get ergonomic

You spend several hours a day at your workstation, so it’s worth it to spend some time making it more ergonomic. An ergonomic chair set to the correct height and angle will keep your spine straight, your shoulders relaxed, and your forearms in the proper position for pain-free typing.

While working on a keyboard, keep your hands straight rather than holding your wrists above the keys. When you hold your wrists above the keyboard, chances are you’ll place added strain on your hands and wrists.

Take wrist stretch breaks

Taking short breaks each hour to stretch your hands and wrists can make a big difference. Try shaking out your hands gently and bending your fingers forward and backward to stretch them out.

Protect your wrists outside of the office

Keeping your wrists healthy outside of the office can go a long way too. It’s wise to avoid sleeping on your wrists or hands, especially in a flexed position. If you have some wrist pain, it’s a good idea to wear a wrist brace to avoid putting more strain on the wrists inside and outside of work.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common cause of wrist pain, but you can protect your wrists with some simple changes. If you have wrist pain or are concerned about carpal tunnel, give us a call at 213-455-8448 to schedule a visit with an LA Orthopaedic Specialists provider or book an appointment online to learn about treatment options.

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