When you hear “carpal tunnel,” the first thing that pops into your head is likely a keyboard. The link is so common, we use it as a joke. “If you keep working any longer you’re going to end up with carpal tunnel.”
What if we told you that an auto mechanic could end up with carpal tunnel syndrome just as easily as somebody working at a desk? It’s true. Typing, alone, doesn’t lead to carpal tunnel. Any activity that involves repeatedly straining the wrist can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Let’s look at some other activities that may increase your risk for carpal tunnel. If you see your job or hobby on here, don’t worry. At the end of this post we have some tips for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you work in a kitchen, you’re working with your hands all day long. And any chef can tell you that sometimes those days are really long. Think about the way that you grip knives and cooking utensils. If your grip is too firm or puts your wrist at an awkward angle, the tendons in your wrist can become inflamed. That leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. Stretch, take breaks and check your technique to stay safe.
2. Automotive work
If you’re doing a lot of ratcheting every day, you might be at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. CTS is a repetitive stress injury. Many mechanical tasks require repetitive motion with the hands. That repetitive stress inflames the tendons in your wrist.
Strains the wrists? Check. Repetitive? You bet. Takes a long time? Yes. Needlepoint might be calming, but it’s an activity that can lead to repetitive stress injury. Needlepoint blogger Carol Leather points out a few ways to adjust your work to avoid RSI.
Construction work often places your wrist in a strained position. There is repetitive movement with hand tools. And many construction workers use tools with a severe vibration such as power saws and jackhammers.
Do you play video games for hours on end? Whether it’s on a PC or console, gaming involves a lot of repetitive motions over a long period of time. That makes gamers susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. It’s very important for gamers to remember to take breaks, and make sure that their posture isn’t putting their hands and wrists at awkward angles.
How do you prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
There are a few ways that you can decrease your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome:
Take 10 to 15 minute breaks every hour to make sure that your wrists are getting rest. If a particular hobby is causing you problems, take a break from that hobby. Remember, it’s repetitive stress on the wrists that leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. So give your wrists a break.
Be less forceful
Gripping a tool too tightly, in combination with repetitive stress, may increase your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Take a moment to look at how you’re using everyday tools. Try to grip them a bit more loosely.
Stretch your hands and wrist
Before you work, and when you take your breaks, stretch your hands and wrist.
These are just a few ways to prevent suffering from carpal tunnel. Motus Rehabilitation published a post on preventing carpal tunnel with more, helpful information.
What if you develop carpal tunnel syndrome?
A doctor can tell you if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. And from that point there are a couple of options.
First, your doctor will likely try non-surgical treatments. These include rest, splinting and corticosteroids.
If non-surgical treatments don’t work, your doctor will likely recommend carpal tunnel surgery. Read our post on carpal tunnel surgery to learn more about what you can expect.
Michigan Surgery Specialists can help
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most commonly treated conditions at MSS. Our hand surgeons have helped hundreds of people overcome CTS and return to the activities that they love. If you’ve been feeling pain and/or numbness in your hand or wrist, request an appointment with a doctor today.