Tips to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
With sedentary lifestyles and long working hours becoming commonplace, more and more people are falling prey to conditions such as carpal tunnel and RSI. If you think these conditions are unavoidable due to the very nature of your job, you are wrong. Dr. Debbie Amini, an occupational therapist from the American Occupational Therapy Association, shares ways you can keep these conditions at bay, without compromising on your work.
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Avoiding Occupational Hazards
With sedentary lifestyles and long working hours becoming commonplace, more and more people are falling prey to conditions such as carpal tunnel and RSI.
If you think these conditions are unavoidable due to the very nature of your job, you are wrong. Dr. Debbie Amini, an occupational therapist from the American Occupational Therapy Association, shares ways you can keep these conditions at bay, without compromising on your work.
If you have pain at night or numbness in your thumb and index finger, see a doctor.
Repetitive Strain Injury
How can a working professional prevent RSI?
RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury is caused when the daily use of a muscle, joint or ligament is not balanced by rest. To prevent RSI one must provide enough rest to all areas of the body, especially those that are prone to being used extensively throughout the day. Usually the hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, eyes, etc. are commonly areas of strain if you have a desk job.
Things to Consider
Is your workplace making you ill? Find out:
• If you sit for prolonged periods and type for several hours, you should take rest breaks in-between. If a standing desk is available it would be good to use it for at least some parts of the day.
• If you work on the computer, it is important to get up from your seat and walk around for a few minutes, at least once every hour.
• Other tasks such a filing or getting a document from the printer can be done standing or walking.
• It is also a good idea to take breaks from typing every 30 to 60 minutes to move your hands and wrists — this can also be done while taking a break to walk.
• If possible, use an adjustable desk that allows you to stand and work too.
• Look at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes to refocus your eyes.
• Consider using a larger screen size which will lessen the chance of eye strain.
• Adjust the contrast and brightness of your screen to settings that are comfortable.
What’s the Right Sitting Position
The correct sitting position is to have your feet in a comfortable position with knees bent at 90 degrees or a bit less.
Hips should be at 90 degrees and the back should be comfortable against the back of the chair with a lumbar support. Arms can rest on your chair’s armrests or can be rested on your desk.
Your chair should not be too high or too low and your chair and desk should line up so that the elbows are at a 90-degree angle or a little less. Your shoulders should be relaxed and the height of the monitor should be in your line of sight when your head is upright.
A monitor that is too high or too low will cause the neck, shoulders and back to ache.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It is important to keep a few things in mind to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:
Try to keep your wrists as straight as possible when typing. If you hold your wrist in a position where your hand is either pointing up or down for long periods, it can cut off the circulation to the nerve in your wrist.
Also, these positions, especially the wrist down, can create more friction in your wrists from the finger tendons which can increase swelling that in turn creates a pinched nerve.
Hands should be pointed straight ahead.
Do not tilt your hands towards your little finger or toward your thumb when typing. Rest your forearms on the desk surface or on a soft foam wrist rest. Do not let your forearms rest on the edge of the desk as the pressure on the arm from the sharp edge of the desk can cut off circulation to the nerve.
If you do feel like you have typed too much without rest during the day or if your hands feel swollen, put an ice pack on them for 20 minutes after you are done with work. This can also be done during your break if needed.
There are many chairs in the market that are ergonomically designed.
There are special mouse and keyboards available that are designed to lessen the chance of carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are many chairs in the market that are ergonomically designed as well. A chair with free moving casters, adjustable height and adjustable arms is ideal. It should also have good lumbar support. All in all, task chairs are better than executive chairs.
Don’t Take Chances
Despite these tips, if you feel soreness, use ice to calm down the overuse. If you have pain at night or numbness in your thumb and index finger, see a doctor.