According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately five percent of all people who work in jobs that involve repetitive motions suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, and OSHA reports that more people miss work from injuries resulting from repetitive strain than for any other reason. Whether you are scrolling on your phone, using power tools or typing up a brief for work, you are using your hands and wrists constantly, and it should be no surprise that injuries to these areas are on the rise. While you can’t always change your work environment, you may be able to reduce these injuries by changing your lifestyle and habits.
What is It?
If you could look under the surface, you would see that your wrist holds both tendons and nerves that connect to your hand and help it to function properly. All of these essential functions run through a channel known as the carpal tunnel. When you use your wrist and hands in repetitive motions, your nerves and tendons can become pinched, resulting in pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in this area.
Preventative and Therapeutic Measures
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you can’t cure it by just doing a few exercises. Also, even adopting better habits won’t guarantee that you will avoid this condition altogether. However, you can potentially reduce symptoms and lower your chances of having issues if you follow a few best practices.
- Focus on your overall health. When your body is already fighting things like obesity and diabetes or you smoke, you are more susceptible to repetitive strain injuries.
- Break up your workday so that your hands and wrists have a chance to change positions or rest. A five-minute break from an activity every hour can help your body recover from persistent strain.
- Pay attention to how your office space functions, and look for solutions that are designed to be more ergonomic. Using a different computer or selecting a well-designed chair may improve discomfort in your wrists, back or ankles, for example.
- Engage in exercises that stretch your hands and wrists. By stopping periodically to rotate your wrists and do some simple finger stretches, you may increase flexibility in the area so that you can work without injury.
- Wear wrist supports if you are already suffering from pain or work in a job where you are high risk. This extra support may make the difference between wrist strength and long-term injuries.
- Be mindful of how you sleep. If you are straining your wrists throughout your workday and then sleep with your hands bent, it can exacerbate nerve damage.
- When you’re performing repetitive tasks, notice how your body is working. You can reduce your chances of developing this condition by doing something a simple as relaxing an overly firm grip, for example. It also matters how you stand or sit, so it wouldn’t hurt to learn some best practices when it comes to physical form in the workplace.
Repetitive strain injuries are a real risk for many people, and having wrist pain can seriously interrupt your normal daily activities. Luckily, you may be able to either avoid or improve these types of injuries if you pay attention and make a few small changes to your daily routine.