Since many of us are working on a computer all day, we may be putting ourselves at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). It happens when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This nerve controls sensations to the palm side of your thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, which houses the median nerve and tendons.
Some people are more prone to this because they have a smaller carpel tunnel. For this reason, women are three times more likely than men to develop CTS. It can also be caused by an injury, fluid retention during pregnancy, or repetitive motions like using a mouse or keyboard.
Here are some ways to prevent the pain and tingly sensations caused by CTS:
- Check out the ergonomics of your desk setup. Adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard so you don't have to flex your wrists to type.
- Using one of those pads that run along the length of your keyboard will prop up the heels of your palms, so that your forearms, wrists, and hands are in one straight line, which could prevent the nerve from getting squeezed. If your mousing hand bothers you, try one of those mouse pads that has extra cushioning you can rest your wrist on.
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- You may benefit from using one of those ergonomic keyboards so that your hands and wrists type in a more natural position.
- If you're using a regular mouse and it bothers your wrist, pick up a vertical mouse so that your thumb is pointing straight up. It may feel more comfortable on your wrist.
- Take breaks from mousing and typing. Shake out your wrists or do some wrist stretches.