How Are You Preventing Carpal Tunnel?

Recently I started to experience an odd numbness in my right thumb, palm, and wrist. I monitored it for a few days, and as the numbness persisted, it was clear that the symptoms matched with those of carpal tunnel syndrome.

I’m actually surprised (and lucky) that this is the first time I’ve felt such symptoms, as I’ve had desk jobs for the last 17 years. Fortunately, because the symptoms are mild, I learned that it’s not too late for me to take some small daily steps to avoid the more painful stages of carpal tunnel (and the potential invasive solutions).

Basically, I memorized the stretches seen in the video below, and I put reminders on my calendar at the end of each morning and afternoon to do them. They take around 1 minute to complete each time. I’m also trying to be more careful about the position of my wrist and hand when I use the keyboard/mouse.

The results were positive after just a few days of performing the stretches. The numbness is gone, allowing me to pet my cats properly again.

Have you experienced any symptoms of carpal tunnel? What have you tried to lessen the impact and prevent it from getting worse?


8 Responses to “How Are You Preventing Carpal Tunnel?”

  1. Katie says:

    My mom had it in both wrists, and ended up getting them operated on at the same time when I was in high school. I would tend to her incisions in the morning before I went to school, but on the first day, we didn’t think about the fact that she wouldn’t be able to get the caps off her pain medication to take it while I was gone!

    She sat at the front window of our house waiting for our neighbor across the street – a very kind elderly gentleman – to come home for lunch, then she went running out there with her wrists all bandaged up asking him for help.

    To say he was surprised by the situation would be a huge understatement!

  2. Sara says:

    Hi Jamey,

    It’s unfortunate that every wrist pain or tingling is automatically labeled as carpal tunnel syndrome. I have had significant wrist pain with numbing of the last two fingers that was attributed to carpal tunnel. However, years later when given an actual EMG test, which is a nerve-stim test to see if it’s carpal tunnel, I was shown to have zero carpal tunnel. I had nerve impingement and tendinitis, which was sourced from farther up my arm and into my neck.

    The things I’ve done that help

    1. Figure out what upsets your hand/wrist/arm/neck/shoulder and stop doing that for awhile. See what you can do to change it up – different mouse, getting a wrist rest, don’t rest your elbow on the arm of your chair, etc. Especially check the size of your mouse. It may be you need a wider one – I use the Kensington Pro full-size mouse because I have wide hands.

    2. Breaks and stretching need to be done many times a day rather than just twice a day. Continuous power typing and/or mousing will take their toll.

    3. Ice, ice, baby! And not icing while you work – icing while you’re relaxing.

    4. Make sure your chair and desk height are correct.

    5. Make sure your keyboard type is correct. I had an ergo evaluation at work. They have you sit and raise your hand to the typing position. While the height was correct, I discovered that the act of squishing both hands into home-key position while fighting my wider anatomy to do it was a huge issue. I got a Kinesis freedom II keyboard, and it keeps me from getting re-injured.

    6. Find yourself a good neuromuscular therapist. I had never heard of this specialty before finding it by accident. It was life-changing. After 8 years of various injections, ‘traditional’ physical therapy (assigning exercises, etc.) I finally got significant, lasting relief from the neuromuscular therapist within about 3 visits.

    Over time, you experiment around and find what upsets your body and make adjustments. I can’t say enough about prevention vs. trying to find a cure.

  3. Sara says:

    I forgot about this tidbit – the doctors will assume things about you purely because of your age. I got told numerous times by male doctors (with more salt than pepper in their hair) that I “probably have arthritis since you’re over 40” or “probably have bone spurs since you’re over 40.” Well, two clean MRIs said differently. You have to do what makes sense for you. It’s lots of trial and error. The docs also kept telling me to take an anti-inflammatory, so I started taking Naproxen (Aleve). It kind of worked for awhile – I was advised to stay on it as long as I was having problems. Not til YEARS later did I get told by an unrelated doctor that I should NOT be on NSAIDs that long. Now that I know better, I had to do even more to advocate for myself and not be in pain or getting numb. I’m telling you – that kinesis keyboard (I think it’s a freestyle, not freedom) and the neuromuscular therapist were life changing.

  4. Rupert Fuller says:

    A few years ago I was told by a physio to move the mouse to my non dominant hand when at work and though it took a little while to get used to it, the precision control comes and it’s quite natural for me to use the mouse on the left or right between work and home, which means I’m not overusing one side or the other. I also use a wrist rest for my mouse and have a large one integrated into my keyboard both help alot.

  5. Cody Simonsen says:

    My saving grace was wearing wrist braces while I sleep to teach myself how to sleep correctly. Over time, I’ve stopped wearing them in bed because they’re hot and uncomfortable, but wearing the braces trained me to position my wrists in certain ways while I sleep which has reduced the lion share of numbness, pain, and tingling for me.

    The link to an image below best reflects my sleeping position- it’s not exactly what I do so I’ll try to explain my approach.
    I sleep on my side. Let’s say for the purpose of example, my left side is the side touching the bed. My left arm is extended along the length of my torso touching the bed next to my thigh in front of my body. This encourages my wrist to sit straight as if it were in a brace.

    My right arm would be as if my right hand was touching my left shoulder- so elbow bent and touching my chest and wrist is straightened as if it too were in a brace.

    Link to referred to image: https://www.athletico.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Sleep-Positioning-and-Carpal-Tunnel-Syndrome-5-608×239.png

    Hope this makes sense. This is what helps me stay pain-free.

    Glad the stretches are working for you! Thanks for sharing!

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