The carpal tunnel is a narrow nerve passage located in the wrist. The “median nerve” passing through this tunnel is responsible for the feeling and movements of part of the hand and fingers. If the carpal tunnel becomes irritated and swells, such swelling compresses the median nerve and causes pain. If left untreated, it can result in permanent nerve damage.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed based on the complaints of the individual combined with physical tests and often electrical tests. There is no single carpal tunnel test that is definitive for the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Rather, the person's complaints and test findings together lead to its diagnosis. Below are steps to assist with the carpal tunnel at your desk job.
1. Move It
Certain types of exercise can be very beneficial in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome, especially stretching and strengthening exercises. Take time throughout the workday to stretch and perform basic exercises, and you’ll lower your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. In particular, shake out and stretch your wrists. Many people swear by yoga for reducing the risk of developing the syndrome. In addition to the direct benefits of exercise, it also helps maintain healthy body weight, further reducing your risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. Setup 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.
While it’s natural to focus on your wrist and hands, how you hold the rest of your body can also make a difference. Poor posture may cause you to roll your shoulders forward. This sets off a chain reaction that shortens your neck and shoulder muscles, crunches the nerves in your neck, and makes wrist problems worse.
4. Ergonomic Computer Equipment
Ergonomic keyboards, mice, and wrist rest supports are designed to reduce stress on the hands, wrists, and arms by allowing individuals to place their hands and wrists in a more natural position. The keyboard also encourages employees to type in a manner that utilizes all of their fingers equally which relieves strain. The mice also have an added bonus of having buttons that allow individuals to utilize multiple fingers.