While it didn’t get the attention it once did in the 2000s, carpal tunnel syndrome is still a very relevant danger for many of us. Named for the carpal tunnel, that thin row of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, the real danger is in repetition, putting repeated stress on the wrist while using the fingers. (Genetics also play a role; some people naturally have a smaller carpal tunnel. Also, CTS is three times a likely to show up in women.)
Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome vary depending on the seriousness of the case. Identified early on, two weeks of resting the hand and wrist combined with a wrist splint and avoiding the movement and motions that were causing it to begin with is enough. In some cases, anti-inflammatory drugs are used. Strengthening and stretching exercises after the symptoms have cleared up can help avoid future episodes.
Severe cases can require surgery. In fact, carpal tunnel release surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States. So, how can you avoid all that? Let’s talk about some of the most common activities that could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Most of the activities that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome are common, familiar activities that many people engage in. Take texting.
When carpal tunnel syndrome was making the evening news, texting wasn’t even around, but its rapid rise in popularity in the last decade can leave text junkies susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Texting is the modern example, but any activity that involves the continuous use of the hands and fingers in making repetitive motions can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
This can range from activities like texting to knitting to, of course, the dangerous activity of text-knitting.
All jokes aside, if you’re often on your phone consider taking breaks every 15 – 30 minutes to cut back on prolonged use.
Just because it was the original carpal tunnel syndrome boogeyman doesn’t mean it’s not still a factor. The real problem here is typing while your wrist is bent inwards or flexed. Think about firmly planting your wrists on the keyboard while typing or hitting different keys across the keyboard by bending your wrist instead of moving your hand. These are things to avoid.
While typing is a popular culprit, it’s not alone. Any heavily repeated hand activity with a flexed wrist or a wrist that’s bent inwards can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, such as playing an instrument or a barista pouring one thousand cups of coffee a day from the same awkward position.
Early video game controllers consisted of a stick and a button. Today, most controllers come with two sticks, a directional pad, six button, two triggers, two extra triggers and a switch that automatically puts in a to-go order at your favorite pizza place. Hitting all those extra buttons and triggers take a fair bit of wrist contortion.
This isn’t a problem if you’re, say, playing a couple hours of Call of Duty a week, but if you’re slamming through five hours of gameplay a night, consider cutting back and doing stretching exercises. This is especially true of those in a younger age group, as it may cause more problems down the line.
Note: If you’re a PC gamer, just reread the section about typing.
Heavy Machine Work
Carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t limited office work and cell phones. Constant, heavy vibration can also cause damage to your carpal tunnel. Operators of vibrating construction machinery, such as jack hammers or sanders, are often affected by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Assembly Line Workers
Assembly line workers are much more likely to be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome than office workers. Whether it’s cleaning, sorting, sewing, manufacturing or meat packing, that daily repetition of bending and working while constantly moving the fingers can add up over time.
Pay attention to the position of your wrists and hands and find a safe way to do the job.
So, Can Athens Bone and Joint Help?
Definitely. We often see patients who are suffering from CTS and similar ailments. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort and you’re worried you may be suffering from CTS, give us a call! We’re here to help you.
- In Hand