Tips for Avoiding Carpal Tunnel in an Office Job

Carpal tunnel syndrome often starts out as tingling or numbness, an issue most people can ignore. Unfortunately, over time, it can become a serious problem that leads to sharp pains shooting through the wrists and arms. When carpal tunnel syndrome gets to this point, it is already too late to prevent it, but if you work at an office job and know carpal tunnel is always a possibility, you might want to start now to make sure you can prevent the issue later.

Drs. S. Jeffrey Cannella, Eduardo Garcia, Joseph Toothaker-Alvarez, Alan Swearingen, and Sunil Thomas, as well as the rest of our team at Space City Pain Specialists, want to help you deal with carpal tunnel syndrome before it starts. After all, prevention is always the best way to treat any issue, and people in office jobs have a high chance of developing this syndrome. 

Tip #1: Know your risks

One of the most important things you can do is understand the causes and risks of carpal tunnel syndrome. The syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, is squeezed. Often, this occurs through small irritations over time. Other risk factors can also increase your chances of developing the syndrome, such as: 

If you know any of these risk factors affect you and you have an office job, it is important to be aware of the possibility of developing carpal tunnel.

Tip #2: Type with your wrists straight

Instead of pressing your wrists down on the keyboard as you type, or even resting them there, keep your wrists straight. This means keeping your arms hovering over the keys so that your wrists aren’t forced to bend. When you rest your wrists on the keyboard, they sit at an angle, which can increase the likelihood of creating carpal tunnel syndrome.

Tip #3: Use a gentle touch

When you’re typing at your computer, you don’t need to press hard on the keys. Most modern computers require only a light touch. If you train yourself to type more lightly, you won’t be putting as much strain on your wrists.

Tip #4: Perform wrist stretches

Athletes who work their muscles all day need to stretch periodically to protect their bodies and make sure they are able to perform up to their standards. As much as you can throughout the day, perform little stretches to make sure your wrists are taken care of. Start out making a fist and then slowly unravel your fingers until they’re pointing straight out. You can also start by making a fist and unfurling your fingers until they fan all the way out. Repeat these exercises five to 10 times in a row.

Tip #5: Keep warm

Being cold stiffen your joints and cause more pain when working on repetitive tasks. If your office is an icebox in the wintertime, make sure to wear gloves with the fingers cut out to work. This will help your wrists stay warm and make them much less likely to start hurting.

Tip #6: Sit tall

We often tell young children to sit tall with their shoulders back when they are learning in school, and this advice is helpful for adults sitting at desks as well. While you might focus on how to hold your wrists as a way to prevent carpal tunnel, you should also be looking at your posture as you sit. You might be rolling your shoulders forward, which can be putting pressure on your neck. This worsens the problems with your wrists.

Tip #7: Take breaks

Don’t sit at your desk for eight hours straight. Take breaks by getting up and walking around the office, going to the bathroom, going to the coffee machine, and simply allowing yourself to get out of that same posture. Do your wrist stretches during breaks and give yourself enough time to really rest from the consistent work at your desk —  ideally, a 10-15-minute break every hour.

Want to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome?

Or are you already suffering from this syndrome and want to know how we can help? Contact one of our four Texas offices in Webster, League City, Baytown, or Lake Jackson by phone or make an appointment online today. 

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