Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can result from repetitive motions, like grasping tools, scanning groceries, and typing. CTS affects about 8 million Americans each year, and many of these cases occur in the workplace.
Carpal tunnel is the most common syndrome of nerve compression of the upper extremity. The disorder affects 2% of the general population and 8% of the working people who use repetitive motions of their hands and wrists daily.
Carpal tunnel results in the highest number of days lost in the corporate workplace of all other work-related injuries. About 50% of all carpal tunnel cases result in 31 days or more of work loss.
The U.S Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted a survey and reports that repetitive strain injuries are the country’s most costly and most common occupational health problem. The condition affects hundreds of thousands of American workers and costs an estimated $20 billion per year in workers’ compensation.
On average, about 260,000 carpal tunnel operations are performed each year, with 47% of these operations being work-related.
Many office corporate workers are diagnosed with CTS every year due to excessive motion and hyperextension that wears down and compresses the median nerve, which is located in the carpal tunnel.
Here are some tips for managing your carpal tunnel in the workplace:
1. Improve Your Work Setting
Proper posture and alignment are crucial for a healthy body and skeleton. Align your keyboard and chair properly to maximize a good position and to make sure you are not overextending your wrist.
Sit in a natural position, with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
Your keyboard should be one to two inches above your lap. Both keyboard and mouse should allow you to have your elbows at your side your arms at a 90-degree angle or lower. A keyboard pull-out tray will help.
2. Keep Healthy Weight and Blood Pressure:
Avoid excessive habits. Do not overeat, smoke, or drink. Avoid sugary diets and fast or fried foods. Pack a healthy lunch with plenty of vegetables and fruits to take to work.
Eating healthy will keep your blood pressure down and help avoid the risk of diabetes, which also contributes to CTS.
3. Reduce Work Stress
Work stress can increase the likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome. Taking breaks is important during the workday. Ways to reduce stress, in general, include exercising regularly, practice meditation or breathing exercises, prioritizing your time, and eating healthy.
4. Practice Your Grip
When you are holding items, don’t just use your fingers, use your entire hand. A lot of muscles that support your wrist can become weak over time if not used.
It is essential to keep your wrists fit. Squeeze balls are good to use in the workplace to strengthen your grip.
In many cases, merely resting will ease carpal tunnel pain. Avoid doing the repetitive tasks that irritate or worsen your CTS symptoms. Take breaks in between work assignments.
If you work at a computer all day, stand up and move away from the computer. Stretch your hands and wrists. Don’t play video games during your breaks because it also is a factor in causing CTS.
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