According to Beth Kozera, there are a variety of factors that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome including:
- Genetics or a patient’s anatomical structure of the wrist
- Pregnancy, which causes increased inflammation in the body
- Sleeping with wrists in flexed position
- Repetitive work like typing and workstations that are not ergonomically set up
- Hand tool use- drill or nail gun for heavy laborers, scissors and comb/brush for hairdresser, mixer and knife for chef/cook
Tom explains that the majority of patients they see with carpal tunnel symptoms are individuals with office jobs who work at computers and perform repetitive movements. “People who have jobs that require repetitive movements such as prolonged sitting at a computer or typing should have their workstation looked at to make sure it is properly set up,” says Beth. “We go by the 90/90 rule – hips at 90 degrees, elbows at 90 degrees and eyes straight ahead so you don’t have to look up and down with your neck.”
Tips for a proper workstation to help avoid muscle strain:
- Use an adjustable chair
- Keep feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest
- Maintain good posture while sitting at the work station to avoid muscle strain
- Take frequent rest breaks while typing
- Use a wrist rest to help decrease muscle strain and to support the wrist when using a mouse or when typing
- Try an adjustable keyboard that keep wrists in neutral and fingers at an angled position to decrease muscle strain in the wrists
- Get up and move; stretch the neck and limbs at least once every hour
Benefits of Exercises and Stretches for Patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Patients with mild to moderate symptoms and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome may benefit from performing exercises and stretches on a regular basis to strengthen muscles in the arms and wrists. Tom Perone warns, however, “For individuals with severe carpal tunnel syndrome and excessive pain, many exercises can exacerbate the condition and should be avoided.” Consulting with an orthopaedic specialist and/or a physical therapist before beginning any exercise routine is important. Wrist braces or splints can also help provide support and take pressure off the median nerve.
Examples of Exercises and Stretches for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Patients
Median Nerves Glides:
Do exercises one through six as one repetition. Perform five repetitions three times per day to strengthen muscles in the hand and wrist.
- Wrist neutral, make a fist
- Wrist in neutral, extend your fingers and thumb
- Extend wrist and fingers
- Extend thumb
- Turn your forearm with palm facing you
- Use your other hand to stretch thumb
Keeping the elbow straight and palm down, grasp the involved hand and slowly bend wrist down until stretch is felt. Hold 30 seconds. Perform three repetitions three times per day.
Keeping the elbow straight and palm up, grasp the involved hand and slowly bend wrist down until stretch is felt. Hold 30 seconds. Perform three repetitions three times per day.
Learn more about physical therapy at OACM and carpal tunnel syndrome by visiting www.mdbonedocs.com.