Every year, countless professionals report symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and weakness in their hands. These symptoms can often be attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a condition that’s becoming increasingly prevalent in our technology-driven world. But is your desk job really the culprit behind those nagging hand symptoms? Alliance Orthopedics provides answers to the common questions surrounding CTS so you can ensure your work environment isn’t causing any long-term damage.
The Anatomy Behind Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by compression of the median nerve that travels from your forearm into your hand. This compression can result in numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the fingers. It’s important to recognize how the carpal tunnel is constructed in order to understand why CTS occurs.
The carpal tunnel is a small passageway on the palm side of your wrist that contains nine tendons and the median nerve passing through it. It’s this tight space that can become compressed and cause CTS. Although there is still some debate over the exact causes of CTS, most experts agree it’s caused by a combination of factors such as:
- Repetitive movements (such as typing or clicking a mouse)
- Injuries to the wrist
- Health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and thyroid issues
- Gender (women are more likely to develop CTS)
The Desk Job Connection
While it may be convenient to attribute carpal tunnel syndrome directly to desk jobs, the connection is more complex. Desk jobs, particularly those involving repetitive typing or mouse use, can indeed contribute to the development of CTS, but they are not the sole cause. The syndrome is more likely to occur when these work factors combine with other underlying risk factors such as genetic predisposition, existing health conditions, or lifestyle habits. Nonetheless, understanding how desk job activities may contribute to CTS can help you take preventative measures.
Repetitive Hand Movements
Tasks that involve repetitive hand or wrist movements may strain the wrist and contribute to inflammation. When your wrist is flexed for extended periods, it can put pressure on the median nerve and cause CTS symptoms. It’s crucial to take frequent breaks from typing or computer use and stretch your hands throughout the day.
Poor posture may also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome due to its impact on wrist alignment. Working with your wrists in an awkward position can cause strain and interfere with the proper functioning of the median nerve. To reduce CTS symptoms caused by posture, make sure you are seated upright and maintain a neutral wrist position while typing or using a mouse.
Finally, having the right tools to work with can make all the difference in preventing CTS. Investing in ergonomic keyboards and mice can help reduce wrist strain caused by repetitive movements. Additionally, using an adjustable desk to vary your posture throughout the day can help relieve strain on your wrists. If you do not have access to ergonomic equipment, try using wrist and hand supports to reduce strain on your median nerve.
Prevention and Treatment
Understanding the connection between desk jobs and CTS paves the way for effective prevention and treatment. If you suspect your desk job may be causing CTS, talk to an Alliance Orthopedics specialist about the best action plan. Your physician may recommend occupational therapy, lifestyle changes, wrist supports or splints, and ergonomic equipment. The following prevention and treatment techniques are designed to help you find relief from CTS.
Occupational therapy is a conservative care approach that can significantly aid in preventing and treating carpal tunnel syndrome. This type of therapy focuses on exercises and stretches designed to strengthen the wrist and hand muscles, enhance flexibility, and promote better postural habits, ultimately alleviating existing CTS symptoms but also reducing the chances of the syndrome’s recurrence. At Alliance Orthopedics, our occupational therapists will teach you strengthening and stretching exercises to relieve pressure on your median nerve. You will also learn how to maintain good posture and use ergonomic equipment to reduce the risk of CTS recurrence.
Orthotic devices, such as wrist braces and splints, may be an effective method to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially during work. These devices support the wrist and help maintain it in a neutral position, reducing the pressure exerted on the median nerve. By limiting the wrist’s range of motion, orthotics can help prevent the overuse and strain caused by repetitive movements, which are often associated with desk jobs.
At Alliance Orthopedics, we believe that the right fit is critical to achieving the best results. We offer personalized brace and splint fitting services to ensure your device provides the correct level of support without causing discomfort or limiting your mobility. Our team of experts will guide you through the selection process, helping you understand the different types of orthotic devices available and which one is best suited for your needs.
Reduce Your CTS Symptoms With Alliance Orthopedics
Don’t let carpal tunnel syndrome disrupt your daily life. At Alliance Orthopedics, our specialists are dedicated to providing comprehensive care that targets your unique needs. Whether it’s proactive measures to prevent CTS or you’re seeking treatment for existing symptoms, we’re here to help. Book an appointment with us today and take the first step towards relief and recovery. Let’s work together to improve your wrist health and ensure you can continue doing the things you love easily and comfortably.