What You Need To Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Post by Dr. Lee M Kupersmith
Sitting behind a computer, sometimes for 12+ hours a day, could lead to constant strain on wrists and fingers. Here at South Island Orthopedics of Long Island, we specialize in hand and wrist procedures, one of the most common being carpal tunnel surgery.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually consist of a feeling of numbness and tingling in the hand, most commonly the thumb, index finger and long fingers. This is caused by the pinching of a major nerve in the wrist that passes through the carpal tunnel.
Who can be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome?
Anyone can be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome. However, the risk of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome increases, as you get older. Women are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome over men, especially during pregnancy. Women have a smaller carpal tunnel then men, plus hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, lead to a higher risk of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel is also seen in people with diabetes and hypothyroidism.
Typists and manual laborers constantly working with their hands are especially at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. People that are obese and smokers are also at a higher risk.
How can I prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
You can take several steps to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Posture and form: Incorrect posture in your neck and shoulders can affect the nerves in the neck, which can in turn affect your wrists and hands. The way in which you rest your hands on a keyboard can also affect your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Keeping your keyboard slightly lower than elbow height so that your wrists are in a relaxed position that isn’t too low or high, is key.
- Less force/grip: Hitting keys softer on a keyboard or using a pen with an oversized grip and good ink flow will decrease the need to press down or squeeze on the pen.
- Microbreaks: Taking small 3-minute breaks to stretch out your limbs, lean back in a chair, or squeeze your shoulder blades together increases blood flow and decreases repetitive motion that could help prevent carpal tunnel.
If I get carpal tunnel, what should I do?
Surgery is not always required but if needed is usually performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation, on an outpatient basis. During carpal tunnel surgery tissue that is causing pressure on the nerve is released to remove the pressure on the nerve. Occupational or physical therapy is sometimes recommended after surgery. For more information on hand surgeries, carpal tunnel syndrome and occupational or physical therapy, visit SIOrtho.com.
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