With social distancing put into place, many of us find ourselves working from home. If you are one of these people, you may not realize it, but your work still poses some degree of risk. While office work is inherently low risk, there are still a chance for incident or injury. One of them being Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a relatively common syndrome that causes pain, numbing, and/or tingling in your hands, arms, and can even travel into your shoulder. It is caused by repetitive motion activities, with the main culprit being typing.
About a month ago, I was listening to a podcast, and one of the hosts was talking about how he was not going to wear wrist guards while working at home, because if he is taken down by Carpal Tunnel while isolating due to COVID-19, then it might as well happen. Except his delivery and choice of words was much more humorous, and I found myself giggling and thinking “yeah! Carpal Tunnel… like that will happen…”
Well, a couple weeks later, and I was suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Pain, tingling, and numbness in my left hand, traveling all the way up to my shoulder. Thus, began extensive googling. Surgical correction of carpal tunnel is the only proven way to rid yourself of symptoms, but I do not want to go that route unless absolutely necessary. So, I tracked down everything that can be done to alleviate the symptoms.
If you find yourself suffering from the discomfort of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, here is a list of things that can be done to help:
– Sleep in a wrist brace. Make sure it fits properly. If it does not, you will end up with an infuriating blister between your thumb and pointer finger,
– If you can, work in a wrist brace.
– When typing, try to key-strike as lightly as possible.
– Take breaks to ice your wrist.
– Take breaks to stretch – pull your fingers back to achieve a mild stretch in the wrist; clench the tips of your fingers into what I can only describe as a claw fist; squeeze a ball to strengthen your grip; make a fist and do wrist circles.
– Use NSAID pain relieves, like ibuprofen or Advil. While Tylenol may help the pain, it will not help the inflammation.
– If you are experiencing pain at night, sleep with the affected hand dangling over the edge of the bed.
– If you are a stomach sleeper who likes to tuck your hands in while you sleep, you will need to find a new favourite sleeping position, as this position will aggravate the symptoms of CTS.
If you are lucky and you are pain free and Carpal Tunnel is of no concern at all, it is still recommended that you take breaks from typing to stretch your wrists and give your hands a break. Work on keeping your hands and wrists strong, to prevent any injury while working from home.