You had a recurring nightmare…
You are sitting at work, minding your own business, when excruciating pain shoots up your arm. You know exactly what it is, because this was not your first warning. The problem had been lingering in the back of your life for some time now, but today it rocked your world hard. The fear factor settles in, and you can no longer ignore your carpal tunnel symptoms.
Fortunately, it was only a dream… or was it?
Even if this dream, or rather nightmare, has become your reality, there is still hope. You can still take control of your own destiny and help yourself.
Depending on the severity of nerve dysfunction (i.e., mild, moderate, severe), there are many non-surgical treatments that may relieve the pressure on the median nerve—the nerve in the wrist that allows for feeling and movement of the hand. The goal is to rebuild the muscles that were damaged in the hand, fingers, and wrist.
Here are a few tips that can help you prevent carpal tunnel. This is especially directed to those of us who are “keyboard warriors”:
- Take frequent breaks, so that your work doesn’t become so repetitive.
- Remember your posture. Sit with your spine against the back of the chair.
- Breathe deeply to help relax your shoulders.
- Use an ergonomic keyboard. It may take some getting used to, but is well worth it in the long run.
- Key lightly.
- Exercise several times a week in order to shed extra pounds that can have adverse effects on your wrists, hands, and fingers.
- Stretch your fingers, wrist, and arms.
Hand exercises, specifically, can yield immediate benefits, and can prove to be very feasible because they can be performed at any moment of the day during your spare time.
You can start by gently rotating your wrist in a circle several times a day for two minutes. This helps restore circulation, as well as exercise all the muscles of the wrist.
Another exercise that you can do is place your forearms on a table with palms down. Hold a light weight in the affected hand, 3-pounds for example, and flex the wrist upward, hold for a few seconds, and then lower. Rest a few seconds between reps. Increase the number of reps gradually strengthen the wrist over time.
One rule of thumb: pay attention to your body. If you feel stiffness, readjust how you are approaching a certain activity, especially if it is considered repetitive. This will help you avoid something like carpal tunnel in the future. Your health depends on it.