Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is common among people who engage in repetitive hand and wrist movements. Unfortunately, this list includes a great deal of us, as most jobs require some degree of repetitive movement.
While office jobs are not typically considered physically demanding, sitting at desk and using the computer for prolonged periods of time is known to exacerbate pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The folks at Pain Free Hands offers the following information about making a few adjustments to your work space and habits that can help you manage CTS pain or even help prevent the development of CTS.
1. Adjust Your Keyboard Position.
If your keyboard is in a poor position, you could be forcing your hands and wrists into an uncomfortable and eventually painful position. Though typing in and of itself is not considered a cause of CTS, typing for long periods of time can exacerbate CTS pain.
You may want to consider purchasing a height-adjustable keyboard and mouse tray that allows you to tilt the keyboard and mouse downward away from your body. This will allow you to use the computer with your upper arms more relaxed and closer to your body.
It is also helpful to keep the keyboard just above the level of your lap. Although it is not the norm to keep one’s keyboard so low, this position will allow you to keep your arms bent at a more relaxed and open angle. Keeping your keyboard in an ergonomic position will ultimately prevent you from holding your wrists bent up or down for prolonged periods of time.
2. Maintain Good Posture.
Although good posture is usually associated with back and neck pain management, many people do not realize that maintaining a good posture at your desk can also help prevent CTS pain. This is because proper alignment even affects the position and tension in the hands and wrists.
Try to keep your elbows at your side and shoulders relaxed. If your office chair has arm rests, avoid using them while you are working. This will help you to keep your shoulders relaxed and your forearms parallel to the ground so that you do not tense or extend your wrists while at the computer.
3. Take a Break.
One of the most important ways to manage and prevent CTS discomfort is to take breaks throughout the day. Getting up and walking around every half hour or hour will increase blood flow to the hands and wrists while keeping you from tensing your muscles for prolonged periods.
As you work, notice things that cause tension or pain in your hands and wrists. Is your stapler or hole punch too stiff to use comfortably? Is your phone awkward to hold? By noticing and adjusting the things that aggravate you, you can manage and prevent pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.