You can reduce your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome by preventing repetitive strain and learning to keep your wrists in a neutral position. However, you may be more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome due to underlying health conditions, anatomic factors, or a wrist injury.
Being overweight is a major risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome. If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or above, you are at greater risk.
It isn't known exactly why being overweight increases the risk. You will also reduce many other health risks if you can maintain body weight below a BMI of 30.
Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism increase your risks of carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions and others that result in inflammation or water retention narrow the space in the carpal tunnel.
High blood sugar in diabetes damages the nerves. Getting treatment for these conditions can reduce your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Age is also a risk factor. Taking care of and protecting your wrists is important as you get older, especially if you use your hands at work for tasks like typing.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs most often in people over age 40. It is rarely seen in children.
Wrist Flexion and Repetitive Strain
Being aware of your wrist position can reduce your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Neutral wrist position is the most protective. This is the position when your hand is in line with your wrist.
A flexed position is palm down, with the palm and fingers bent towards the inner wrist. An extended position is with the palm up.
Sleeping on your hands, especially if they are in a flexed position, increases your risk. Pay attention to your hand position when you go to bed.
If you are already experiencing numbness or tingling in your hands at night or when you awaken, buy a wrist brace to wear while sleeping. This will keep your hand in a neutral position and help prevent progression of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Posture, Arm, and Hand Positioning
Keep your shoulders squared rather than rolled forward when sitting, standing, or walking. A hunched posture contributes to strain down your entire arm and to your wrists and hands.
Any task you are doing, including checking your cell phone, should be done with your arms comfortably away from your body—not too close, not too far.
If you find yourself gripping an object such as a pen or your cell phone tightly, learn to relax your grip or modify how you hold the object. Use a larger soft-grip pen and acell phone stand or holder.
Any tools should be the correct size for your hands as tools that are too large can result in strain.
Avoiding Repetitive Strain in Tasks
At any task or job, pay attention to how you are using your hands, especially when you are performing the same action repetitively. Avoid tasks that require bending or twisting motions with your hand for extended periods of time.
If you must perform these movements, gradually increase your time spent doing them and take frequent breaks. If possible, switch hands during your tasks.
The on-the-jobrisk for carpal tunnel syndrome is seen mostly in assembly line occupations in manufacturing, cleaning, and food processing.
In addition to redesigning these tasks to reduce strain, it would be helpful if your employer rotated jobs requiring these actions so you don't spend long hours doing the same movement.
Computer Workstation Positioning and Habits
There are some computer and typing habits that may increase the stress on your wrists. Changing these practices can reduce the day-to-day strain:
- Posture and positioning: Your keyboard and chair should be at a height where your forearms are level when using the keyboard and make sure your wrists are not flexing when you type. Keep your monitor at eye level and your back supported. Your feet should be squarely on the floor (don’t sit with crossed legs for any length of time). Position your screen at arm’s length away from you. Assess your workstation and make all the changes you can.
- Keep wrists neutral: When typing, your wrists should not be bent outward toward your pinky nor inward toward your thumb. Keep your wrists straight.
- Don’t rest your wrists: When typing, your hands should float above the keyboard, allowing your fingers to find the right keys by moving your whole arm. If your wrists rest in one place, you have to contort your hands to strike all the keys.Wrist rests can be confusingbecause you really should not rest your wrists while you type. Your wrists should serve as a reminder not to rest your hands on the edge of a desk or table; keep your wrists floating in the air when you type.
Studieshave not found a solid link between a computer keyboard or mouse use and carpal tunnel syndrome, but you can still take steps to reduce strain.
- Don’t contort:There are certain combinations of keystrokes that contort your hands and wrists. For example, try pressing control-Y with your left hand only. Anytime you need to do a key combination that involves holding down one key and pressing another, use both hands. This will seem strange at first but it will keep you from twisting into strange positions. This also applies when using the shift key.
- Change hand positions often: Turning your handsover (knuckles on the table) when pausing at the keyboard is a great way to give your wrists a break from being in the same position all day long. Get in the habit of turning your wrists over when thinking of the next sentence to write, talking on the phone, or reading on the computer.
Exercises and Stretches
Stretching and conditioning for tasks that require the use of your hands and wrists are important for preventing injury and repetitive strain.
If you already have some symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, discuss exercises with your healthcare provider as they may or may not be recommended.
Unfortunately, research has not shown nerve gliding andtendon gliding exercisesto be effective in treating the condition once you have symptoms.
Gliding exercises are hand motions aimed to keep the nerves and tendons sliding smoothly through the carpal tunnel, such as the wrist stretch below.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.
Wrist Stretch Sequence
Stretch thetendonsand muscles in your wrists daily. Do so in the morning, at lunchtime, and at the end of the day.
- While standing, hold your arms straight out in front of you with your fingers extended, palms facing the ground.
- Raise both hands in the “stop” position (palms facing the wall in front of you) while keeping your arms straight. Hold this position for five seconds.
- Return your hands to the starting position and make a fist. Hold for five seconds.
- Rotate your fist down so the back of your hand is facing the wall in front of you and you can see your knuckles. Hold for five seconds.
- Finally, return to the starting position and relax your hands and fingers. Hold for five seconds.
- Repeat the series 10 times.
Add about two minutes of stretching for the rest of your body to your stretching routine. Loosen up your shoulders and straightenyour back. Move yourhead from side to side.Stretch your back. You’ll feel more energized and have much less tension and pain.
Grip Strengthening: Squeeze a soft rubber ball. Hold the squeeze for five seconds. Repeat 15 times.
Yoga: Yoga can help strengthen and condition your upper body and improve your posture and grip strength. It has been recommended for people with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
On-the-Job Conditioning: If your job requires tasks that require twisting and bending your hands, especially if you must use forceful motions or carry a load, it is best to gradually increase the time you spend in these activities. Ask your employer for conditioning exercises.
If you have hand or finger tingling, numbness, or pain, take steps to prevent the condition from worsening.
If you've had symptoms suggestive of carpal tunnel syndrome for a few weeks, it's time to see your healthcare provider.
If symptoms remain untreated and progress, you are at risk of muscle and nerve damage which can be irreversible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I prevent carpal tunnel syndrome while using a computer mouse?
Some simple steps you can take include:
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- Place the mouse in an optimal position—on a platform just above the number panel.
- If you use an external mouse and keyboard with a laptop, elevate the laptop so the screen is at eye level.
- Choose a mouse shape that is comfortable in your hand and don't grip it too tightly.
- Keep your wrist in a neutral position and move the mouse by moving your elbow rather than flicking your wrist from side to side.
- Consider a mouse that can be used with both the left and right hands so you can switch hands periodically.
What can I do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from getting worse?
This will depend on the cause, but some general tips for stopping progression of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Taking regular breaks from activities that require repetitive use of your hands, such as typing, piano playing, and playing video games.
- Wearing a splint to keep your wrist straight, especially at night.
- Trying a different type of keyboard (such as a split, V-shaped one) or computer mouse. A mouse that is flat and symmetrical in shape (rather than curved) usually is best, as is a larger mouse that encourages moving the entire arm rather than just the wrist.
How can I prevent carpal tunnel syndrome if I'm pregnant?
It's not unusual for people who are pregnant to experience symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially during the third trimester. These symptoms usually are temporary and are caused by edema (swelling) that's normal during the latter stages of pregnancy. To manage them, try wearing a splint, taking regular breaks while doing tasks that are repetitive and contribute to the discomfort, and doing exercises to help stretch and strengthen your forearms, wrists, and hands.
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This article looks at the definition and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and gives instructions to perform hand exercises and stretches to help relieve pain.
Using the other hand, gently pull the bent hand toward the body to feel a stretch in the outer forearm.. Uncurl the fingers, stretch the fingers and thumb out straight and keep the thumb pressed to the side of the hand.. Release and repeat the whole exercise on the other hand.. People can repeat these exercises on both hands at the same time or alternate between each hand:. Lift the wrist and fingers of the bottom hand while pressing down with the top hand.. numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers, particularly the index, middle, and ring fingers and the thumb symptoms occurring or worsening at night weakness in the hand leading to the loss of grip strength, making holding objects or carrying out everyday tasks more difficult in severe cases, an inability to feel hot or cold temperatures with the hand
Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects nerves and how they function in the body.
Once you have been diagnosed with GBS and referred to physical therapy, your physical therapist will work with you to design a specific treatment program that will improve your recovery, including exercises and treatments that you can do on your own.. GBS may cause pain or discomfort.. Your therapist will also teach you (and your caregivers or family) skin care and protection methods.. Walking ability.. Your physical therapist will help improve your ability to walk using techniques such as strengthening exercises, walking training, and balance activities.. Research shows that aerobic exercise, such as walking on a treadmill for at least 20 minutes 3 times per week, may help improve aerobic capacity, reduce fatigue, and optimize healing.. Your physical therapist will choose specific activities and treatments to help restore normal movement in any stiff joints or muscles.. These might begin with "passive" motions that the physical therapist performs for you, and progress to active exercises and stretches that you do yourself.. Your physical therapist will teach you and your caregiver or family how to help you move around safely, and help you regain the ability to move from your bed to a chair, sit down, stand up, walk, climb stairs, use a wheelchair, and perform any other daily activity with which you have difficulty.. If your physical therapist finds any weak or injured muscles, your therapist will choose, and teach you, the correct exercises to steadily restore your strength and agility.. Your physical therapist will examine your balance, and choose specific exercises you can perform in the clinic and on your own to improve your balance and prevent falls.. Your physical therapist also may teach you how to use a cane or walker to help maintain your balance when walking and standing.. Your physical therapist will teach you strengthening, stretching, and pain-reduction exercises to perform on your own.. These exercises will be designed specifically for your needs, to help restore your ability to perform daily activities.
A pinched nerve occurs when pressure or force is put on an area of a nerve, causing it to send warning signals to the brain. It is a common occurrence that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. A change of posture, daily stretching exercises, yoga, and physical therapy can help to relieve the pain.
Pinched nerves are usually caused by a damaged nerve, and symptoms can include pain, numbness, and weakness.. In many cases, resting the affected area and getting extra sleep is enough to allow the pinched nerve to heal on its own.. They should also try to sleep in a position that relieves the pressure on the nerve.. Using a standing workstation can help keep the spine moving and flexible, which could reduce back pain .. It is important not to stretch too deeply, as this may make symptoms worse.. Applying gentle pressure around the affected area may help relieve tension, and a full body massage can help the muscles relax.. Deep tissue massages may not be a good idea because the extra pressure may make the symptoms worse.. Physical therapy , using a combination of exercise, massage, and gentle stretches, can help relieve symptoms.. If it is possible, wearing a splint on the affected area can help prevent further damage and help the nerve heal.. Stretching before or after low-impact exercises can help keep the body flexible and reduce pressure and inflammation near the nerves.. The warning signals sent by a pinched nerve may cause a few different symptoms in the body, especially in the area around the nerve.. Signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve include:. Pinched nerves can occur anywhere in the body but happen most often in the neck, back, elbows, and wrists.
True sciatica (injury to the sciatic nerve) is rare. Sciatica commonly describes pain that starts in your lower back and travels down your leg.
Sciatica is nerve pain from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve, which originates in your buttock/gluteal area.. True injury to the sciatic nerve “sciatica” is actually rare, but the term “sciatica” is commonly used to describe any pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg.. What this pain shares in common is an injury to a nerve -- an irritation, inflammation, pinching or compression of a nerve in your lower back.. If you have “sciatica," you experience mild to severe pain anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve – that is, anywhere from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks and/or down your legs.. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable and might cause disks to slip, which leads to nerves being pinched and the development of sciatica.. The type of pain can be different, the intensity of pain is different and the cause of the pain can be different.. Spinal injections : An injection of a corticosteroid , an anti-inflammatory medicine, into the lower back might help reduce the pain and swelling around the affected nerve roots.. Spinal surgery is usually not recommended unless you have not improved with other treatment methods such as stretching and medication, your pain is worsening, you have severe weakness in the muscles in your lower extremities or you have lost bladder or bowel control.. The goal of spinal surgery for sciatic pain is to remove the pressure on the nerves that are being pinched and to make sure the spine is stable.. It weakens the spine and the vertebral disks, which puts more stress on the spine and disks and causes back and spine problems.. No, the sciatic nerve is not the only source of what is generally called “sciatica” or sciatica pain.. Hip problems, such as arthritis in the hip, usually cause groin pain, pain when you put weight on your leg, or when the leg is moved around.. If your pain starts in the back and moves or radiates towards the hip or down the leg and you have numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg, sciatica is the most likely cause.. Sciatica that is caused by a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, or bone spur that compresses the sciatic nerve can cause inflammation – or swelling – in the affected leg.. While all these conditions affect either the spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments or joints and all can cause pain, none are directly related to sciatica.
Want to know home remedies for leg cramps at night? Read this article to find natural alternative solutions for the discomfort
But if you cannot consume enough potassium through your diet, you can take potassium supplement instead.. Pull the bottom of the toe from the leg you bend toward your body and hold this position as long as you can Stretch Your Affected Legs With Wall : In this stretch, you can use the aid of a wall to help you.. It can used to treat skin problems, wounds, aching limbs, congestion, and cold, therefore, it is not surprising when Epsom salt can be used to as one of the effective home remedies for leg cramps because of the properties of magnesium for muscle relaxing and healing.. This remedy will help you to treat leg cramps within a couple of minutes.. If you suffer from leg cramps associated with potassium and calcium deficiency, black strap molasses may be the great remedy among home remedies for leg cramps.. Blackstrap molasses can be used to treat many health problems, including leg cramps because it has the great source of potassium and calcium.. Moreover, make sure that you drink enough water to keep your body hydrated.