Managing Your Carpal Tunnel Symptoms At Work
If you frequently work on a computer for your job, you are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is an irritation of a nerve in your wrist that can become swollen and painful. A visit to a neurological services and treatment specialist is needed to determine how severe the damage is in your wrist. If you catch it early, physical therapy may reduce the symptoms. Severe nerve irritation may require surgery to release the tension on the nerve. Here is where the pain is coming from and what you can do at work to prevent it from getting worse.
One Nerve Causes All of That Pain
The median nerve travels down your forearm and through a narrow channel of bone and cartilage to get to your hand. The position of your hand and wrist frequently puts pressure on the precise area where the nerve goes through the channel. This irritates the nerve, causing swelling. The swelling causes the nerve to rub against the bony channel, irritating it even more. This cycle of irritation and swelling creates the pain and numbness in your wrist and hand.
Computer and desk work can irritate the nerve, especially if you rest your wrist against the edge or flat surface of the desk. Repetitive motions, such as assembly line work, can stress the nerve. Your wrist anatomy can put you at risk. The Mayo Clinic says that women are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome because of smaller wrists and less protective tissue around the nerve.
What to Do When It Hurts at Work
Your neurologist may prescribe a splint or wrist brace to wear to prevent nerve irritation while working. They may also order physical therapy to slowly stretch the muscles in your wrist to reduce tension on the nerve. There are also some exercises you can do at your desk to prevent the pain from getting worse.
Finger Flex - Place your palms together facing each other. Holding your fingertips together, move your hands apart and back together again while flexing your fingers. This stretches the muscles in your hand to relieve tension on the median nerve.
Hand Shake - Hold your hands out in front of you and move them as if shaking water off of them. This stretches out muscles in the wrist and increases circulation, which reduces swelling.
Wrist Stretch - Hold one arm out in front of you. With your palm down, extend your fingers down and spread out your fingers. With your other hand, push on your wrist to bend it as much as you can. Hold for a few seconds then repeat with the other hand. This relieves the pressure on the wrist muscles so they will relax.
You can do these exercises while on a break, talking on the phone or reading at your desk. Do each motion in a relaxed manner - don't force your wrist to the point of pain. By using a doctor-prescribed splint, physical therapy and these exercises, you may prevent your carpal tunnel from becoming serious enough to require surgery. For more advice, speak to an expert like Hamza; Mohsen MD.