It is no secret that any occupation that involves excessive work with your hands can put you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
From writers sitting at a computer all day to carpenters working with hand tools, there are plenty of careers that can put a tremendous strain on your hands and wrists.
Luckily, there are plenty of preventive measures you can take to protect yourself against carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
According to WebMD, carpal tunnel syndrome is a result of immense pressure on your median nerve. The median nerve gives you all the feelings in your fingers except your pinky and passes through a narrow path of ligament and bone called the carpal tunnel.
When you overwork your carpal tunnel, your wrist can swell up, causing numbness and weakness from your hands to your arm. If you notice any of these symptoms due to your occupation, consider reaching out to a workers’ compensation lawyer to see if you are eligible for any benefits.
If you work with your hands on a daily basis, consider following these tips to help prevent the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
1. Be Gentle While You Work
Sometimes we are unaware of how much force we use each day which could wreak havoc on our hands and wrist. For example, you may be gripping your hand tools too tightly or slamming your fingers on your laptop’s keyboard. If you notice you are putting too much pressure on your hands, make an effort to use a softer touch.
2. Take Breaks
Sometimes it is hard to stop writing when the ideas are flowing or to put down that hammer when you are pressed for time, but taking small breaks can help ease the pressure on your hands and prevent carpal tunnel. Besides, you won’t be very productive if you can’t use your hands, so taking sporadic 10-15 minute breaks will not only allow your hands to rest but increase productivity.
3. Stretch Your Hands
There are plenty of fast and easy exercises and stretches you can do on your break that will help ease the symptoms of carpal tunnel. For example, make a fist, then stretch out your fingers. Do this repeatedly for 5-10 times per hand.
4. Correct Your Posture
Believe it or not, your posture can directly affect the condition of your hands. If you have bad posture, your shoulders will roll forward, pinching the nerves in your neck and shoulders, which could cause severe pains in your hand. Make sure you are mindful of your posture throughout your day and keep your wrists aligned with your forearms.
5. Keep Your Hands Warm
Another major cause of hand pain and stiffness is the cold. If you work with your hands outside, it is essential to wear proper gloves to keep your hands warm. On really cold days, consider using hand warmers to keep your hands from getting stiff. If you work in an office setting that is always blasting the air conditioning, consider wearing fingerless gloves while you type.
6. Switch it Up
If it is possible, avoid doing the same repetitive tasks all day, every day. Switching up tasks to an every other day basis can give the muscles in your hands a much-needed break to recover.
7. See an Occupational Therapist
If your health insurance covers occupational therapy and your symptoms continue to get worse, no matter what you do, consider seeing an occupational therapist for professional treatment. Occupational therapists can show proven workouts to strengthen your hands and muscles as well as help you change your routine motions to ease the stress and pressure on your hands.
8. Take Care Of Your Hands
If you rely on your hands to make a living, it is necessary to take good care of your hands and wrists. While these tips can’t guarantee protection against carpal tunnel syndrome, they can help limit symptoms and ease the pressure on your hands.