Let us start by saying that repetitive use injuries can occur in any type of workplace, not just an office. Yet office work results in a fair amount of back complaints, leg problems and especially carpal tunnel syndrome. The absolute necessity of using a keyboard to get anything done in today’s business world leads to wrist problems for those who type all day. Body Fix Therapies of Sacramento, your home for orthopedic massage, also has advice on how to avoid this common worker ailment.
What is the Carpal Tunnel?
First we should discuss what is a carpal tunnel? This is the name for a passageway in the wrist that carries tissues between the arm and the hand. For example, it contains the median nerve, which then branches out to all of the fingers, and also contains tendons that move the hand. Ligaments on the underside of the wrist close it off and hold the wrist together. If the nerve inside is compressed too much on a constant basis, or for a single extended period, numbness, weakness, tingling and pain can result, sometimes for months or more!
Other Causes of Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
An important consideration for your therapist when treating symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is to ensure that you actually have a problem in your carpal tunnel. The median nerve is fairly long, running the entire length of the arm from the hand to the upper shoulder. Thus, it can suffer impingement from higher up the limb, even as far as the shoulder or neck. Undue pressure in these other areas can lead to pain in the wrist that is not caused by any fault in the wrist itself. Therefore, it’s important to identify the correct cause of an apparent wrist injury, because treating the wrong issue will not resolve the problem and can even lead to further complications.
Can You Play Piano?
Now that we’ve discussed the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, let’s discuss how to prevent it. For typists and keyboard users, avoiding carpal tunnel involves holding your hands like a good pianist. The wrists, hands and arms should all be level. The wrists should neither be lifted up and beyond the fingers and arms, nor should they rest below the hands on the desktop (a real problem with laptop computers especially). The ideal position, the same one used by pianists who practice for hours on end, keeps the nerves, tendons and ligaments in the wrist flat, not bent, as the fingers do their work. This takes pressure off the median nerve.
For most people, this is a difficult position to hold without some type of rest for the wrist. Keyboards are available that incorporate such a rest into their design. You can also purchase a rest separately that fits right up against your keyboard. Also, good positioning of the arms by a chair with properly adjusted armrests helps you keep your wrists in the right place.
While Body Fix Therapies is here to ease your pain, everyone prefers not to create pain in the first place! If you find yourself succumbing to repetitive use injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, discuss it with one of our therapists. We are always happy to help you assess your habits and find a solution for what causes your pain.