Tips to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Our hands and wrists are used for almost everything we do, from cooking and working to playing sports and getting dressed. As a result, the hands are prone to a variety of injuries. One of the most common conditions that may affect hand and wrist function is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). As we age, the likelihood of developing CTS increases. Therefore, it is essential to be proactive and take steps to prevent this often-painful condition.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a small passageway in the wrist through which the median nerve passes. The median nerve is a sensory and motor nerve that runs from the forearm into the palm. CTS occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed or squeezed as it passes through the carpal tunnel.
This pressure can cause a range of uncomfortable sensations, including:
- Tingling in the fingers
- Numbness in the forearm or hand
- Hand weakness
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS is an entrapment neuropathy, meaning that it is caused by the compression of a nerve. It accounts for 90% of all entrapment neuropathies. Several factors may contribute to the development of CTS, and women are three times more likely to develop the condition than men. Moreover, the risk of CTS increases with age, with peak occurrence between 40 and 60-year-olds. Other risk factors include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid problems
- Occupations that require repetitive hand motions
- Wrist trauma or injury
- Family history
6 Tips to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Preventive action is the best way to reduce your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Including the following tips in your daily routine may significantly reduce your risk and slow the condition’s progression. Tips to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome include:
1. Stretch and Strengthen the Hands and Wrists
The hands and wrists often do not receive the attention that other parts of the body do. However, maintaining strength and flexibility in the hands and wrists is crucial for preventing CTS. There are several easy exercises and stretches that can be done throughout the day to help keep our hands and wrists in optimal condition. Wrist curls, extensor stretches, and grip strengtheners are all great ways to keep our hands and wrists healthy.
2. Avoid Repetitive Motions
Repetitive motion is one of the leading causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, it is important to avoid any repetitive motions when possible. If your job or hobbies require you to perform repetitive movements, take frequent breaks and stretch your hands and wrists often. Prior to any repetitive activity, you should warm up your hands and wrists. This will assist in keeping your tendons and muscles loose, thus minimizing your risk of developing CTS.
3. Give Your Hands a Rest
Whether you are hard at work or enjoying your favorite hobby, it is necessary to take regular breaks. Breaks are crucial for allowing our hands and wrists to rest and recover. When we don’t allow our hands and wrists to rest, we are putting unnecessary stress on the muscles and ligaments that make up the carpal tunnel. This may lead to inflammation and the development of CTS.
4. Visit a Physical Therapist
Physical therapy is for more than just recovering from an injury. A physical therapist can help assess your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and provide specific exercises to help prevent the condition. Furthermore, If you are already experiencing symptoms of CTS, physical therapy is a great way to alleviate the pain and improve function.
5. Wear a Hand Brace
Hand braces are designed to keep your wrist in a neutral position and take the pressure off of the median nerve. This is an effective way to reduce pain and inflammation associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Wearing a hand brace while performing activities that put you at risk of developing CTS or during a flare-up may help prevent the condition from progressing. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about which hand brace is right for you.
6. Use a Softer Touch
If you are frequently typing on a keyboard or using a mouse, try to use a softer touch. Avoid excessive force when typing or clicking, as this may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Moreover, gripping objects too tightly may also put unnecessary stress on the muscles and ligaments in your hand. Use a light touch when possible to minimize your risk of developing CTS.
Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Motion Orthopaedics
While CTS is a common condition, there are several things we can do to prevent it. If you have already been diagnosed with CTS, it is essential to seek treatment early. This will help prevent the condition from progressing and causing further damage. The team at Motion Orthopaedics is dedicated to helping you maintain optimal hand and wrist function. Book an appointment today and begin your journey to better health.