Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Safe Posture and Movements
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a combination of health conditions and activities puts pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. This pressure leads to symptoms.
Anything that decreases the amount of space in the carpal tunnel can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. So can anything that makes the median nerve more sensitive.
Things that help cause carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Illnesses such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.
- Making the same hand movements over and over. This can cause the tissues within the carpal tunnel to swell. The swelling puts pressure on the median nerve. Some movements can be more likely to cause pressure. These include:
- Movements in which your wrists are bent.
- Movements that are done in awkward positions.
- Forceful hand movements.
- Hand-arm vibration.
Sometimes the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome can't be found.
How to put less stress on your hand or wrist
In daily routines at home, at work, or while doing hobbies, think about changing activities in which you make repeated finger, hand, or wrist movements. Train yourself to use other positions or techniques that won't stress your hand or wrist.
- Take good care of your general health.
This includes staying at a healthy weight, not smoking, and getting regular exercise.
- Keep your wrists straight, or only slightly bent, and in line with your arms.
Avoid activities that bend or twist the wrists for long periods of time. Use hand and wrist movements that spread the pressure and motion evenly throughout your hand and wrist.
- Take breaks often, and rest your hands.
- Switch hands and change positions often when you are doing repeated motions.
- Use your whole hand to grasp an object.
Avoid gripping with only the thumb and index finger. This can stress your wrist.
- Stop any activity that you think may be causing finger, hand, or wrist numbness or pain.
If your symptoms improve when you stop, resume that activity gradually.
- Wear a wrist splint when you cannot control your wrist motion, such as while sleeping.
A splint can keep your wrist in a neutral position and reduce the stress on your fingers, hand, or wrist.
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Herbert von Schroeder MD, MSc, FRCSC - Hand and Microvascular Surgery