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10 Ways to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes numbness, weakness or tingling in your hand. It is caused by pressure on your median nerve, which runs through your arm and ends in your hand. Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include weakness in your hand, tingling that moves into your arm, burning or itching, and numbness of the palm and thumb or index and middle fingers. In some cases, the numbness or tingling may run up through your shoulder. There are several risk factors associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, such as gender (women are more likely to develop CTS), obesity, arthritis, and previous wrist fracture/dislocation. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a daily challenge. Here are some things you can do to prevent this from occuring:

1. Understand the Risk Factors
Women are at a higher risk to develop carpal tunnel. Hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and aging can all increase a patient's chances of having CTS. Past hand injuries and repetitive/extensive hand usage are risk factors as well.

2. Keep Hands Warm
Pain and stiffness in your hand or wrist may increase if you are frequently in a cold environment. If you can't change the temperature in certain situations like at work, then consider wearing fingerless gloves to keep warm.

3. Take Frequent Breaks
Consider taking regularly scheduled breaks to avoid strain if you are performing activities that use repetitive hand or wrist motions, like typing.

4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is consistent with a moderate level of physical activity, eating a well-balanced diet, and focusing on mental health.

5. Avoid Repetitive Tasks
Repetitive tasks that involve your hand and wrist can increase strain on the median nerve. If you find yourself performing repetitive tasks, try finding variations that do not repeat the same motion.

6. Improve Your Posture
Incorrect posture will shorten your neck and shoulder muscles, which can affect your wrists, fingers, and hands. Remember to stand and sit up straight with your shoulders back to avoid future pain and discomfort.

7. Exercise and Stretch
Moving your wrist and hand can help to alleviate symptoms. There are many simple exercises and stretches that can help with carpal tunnel syndrome, such as shaking, flexing and extending your hands.

8. Keep Your Wrists Straight While Sleeping
Wearing a wrist splint at night can ease carpal tunnel symptoms, as it is designed to keep your wrists in a natural position while you sleep. Wrist splints are easily accessible at local stores.

9. Loosen Your Grip
When typing, holding a pencil, or gripping a computer mouse, try and loosen your grip to minimize the strain this causes on your hand and wrist.

10. Visit an Occupational Therapist
If you are practicing the above steps, and still experiencing pain, consider visiting an occupational therapist. They can provide you with a more in-depth diagnosis and pain management plan, including targeted exercises and stretches.

Are you noticing symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome? Are you suffering from daily hand pain or wrist pain? MCO's team of occupational therapists will provide you with a plan of action to manage your carpal tunnel and help you develop healthy wrist and hand habits. For more information, please visit our website or call our office at 309-663-6461.
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