If you’re working at a desk job, you probably already know that hunching over your computer for eight hours a day can have an affect on your physical health. Your posture may weaken, your back may hurt, and you might even gain weight from the inactivity of spending every day in the same, seated position. People who are sitting at a desk and constantly typing face an additional risk: carpal tunnel syndrome.
We already wrote about what carpal tunnel is, what diseases it is potentially linked to, and how to treat the condition in one of our earlier blog posts, but here’s a quick recap. Basically, carpal tunnel affects the nerves that run through your wrist to the palm of your hand. If you have carpal tunnel, you may feel pain or numbness when doing everyday activities like driving or typing at your desk.
While people who work at a desk job are commonly at a high risk for carpal tunnel, it can affect anyone who is constantly using their hands or wrists for their job, such as construction workers, assembly line workers, and more.
Various kinds of treatment are available for those who have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), but prevention is ultimately the best treatment for anyone who works at a desk or risks getting CTS.
Best Methods to Prevent Carpal Tunnel When You’re on the Job
Follow these tips while at work to build strong wrists and make it less likely that you will have to suffer with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Take Breaks Throughout the Day: Treat your tasks at work like any other exercise, and make sure that you rest periodically. By resting your wrists for a few minutes throughout the day, you prevent overextension and overuse of the nerves in that area.
Sit with Proper Posture: Proper posture has a long list of benefits, but let’s focus on carpal tunnel. When you sit with your neck up, rather than slouching down to look at the computer, you allow blood to circulate throughout the body and to the hands and wrists. When you take breaks, take the time to evaluate your posture. Is it good enough? What can you do to improve it?
Exercise Your Wrists: The wrists are like any other part of the body – they can be built up with exercise and stretching to prevent injury. Try and exercise and stretch your wrists regularly. Exercise them before the workday to warm up the area for work, during your rest breaks, and at the end of the day.
There are many different exercises and stretches available for your wrists. We recommend the three that can be found here. If you are currently seeing a chiropractor or other doctor for exercise therapy, talk to them about adding wrist exercises into your sessions.
Wear Fingerless Gloves: This may not be the most hip accessory for strolling around the office, but it’s a lot better than having to deal with painful wrists.
Fingerless gloves allow the hands and wrists to stay warm and comfortable throughout the day. Like hot rooms or environments help our muscles to stay loose and relaxed during exercise, fingerless gloves help the muscles in our hands while we are doing work.
Ice Your Wrists Throughout the Day: While heat can relax the muscles, a cold compress can be used to reduce swelling and inflammation. If you are starting to feel like your wrists getting overused, place ice, a bag of frozen vegetables, or other cold objects on your wrists to cool them down.
Evaluate the Tools You are Using at Work: If you haven’t updated your toolkit in a few years, you may be putting yourself at a higher risk for carpal tunnel. Look for tools that allow you to keep your wrists in a more natural position more often. This will reduce the overall strain on your wrists throughout the day.
Similarly, if you work in an office job, evaluate the furniture that is being used. If your chairs or desks do not allow you to type with your computer at eye level, or encourage bad posture, see if you can get new furniture.
Talk to Your Boss: If you are stuck doing tasks that can easily be transferred or traded with another person, you may benefit from taking a longer break.
Talk to your boss about switching or rotating jobs in order to alleviate the strain on one particular area of the body. Who knows? There could be a person who wouldn’t mind a job that works the wrist in order to take a break from a job that works another part of their body.
If you are starting to experience the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and would like to seek treatment, chiropractic care has been known to help. Talk to a chiropractor about your symptoms today to start on the path to improvement.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.