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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Ergonomics

Read more about Ergonomics.

Overview

Ergonomics involves the properly setting up of an individual's office space, so that there is not excessive strain on any part of the person's body. Seat height, computer screen placement, keyboard configuration and back support are just a few among many considerations taken into account with ergonomics.

Effect of Ergonomics on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

For those who spend a lot of time seated at desk, working/typing on a computer, answering phones and doing general office work, the repeated motion(s) incurred on the writs can often cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Since carpal tunnel syndrome is by-and-large due to repetitive strain on the wrist(s), changing your workplace environment to properly fit may well help treat the cause of your condition.

The more comfortable your workplace, and the closer your work activity conforms to the way your body works, the less chance of discomfort or reduced performance.

How to Use Ergonomics

  • Minimize repetitive hand movements when possible.
  • Alternate between activities or tasks to reduce the strain on your body.
  • When using your wrists, keep them straight and let your arms and shoulders share the stress.
  • Use your whole hand or both hands to pick up an item.
  • Avoid holding an object the same way for a long time.
  • If you work in an office, adjust your desk, chair, and keyboard so you are in the best possible position:
    • Back straight
    • Feet flat on the floor or resting on a footrest
    • Knees level with or slightly lower than your hips
    • Shoulders in a neutral position, not forward or back
    • Elbows bent at a 90 degree angle
    • Forearms parallel to the floor and wrists straight
  • Take breaks at least once an hour to:
    • Rest or shake your hands.
    • Massage the palms and backs of your hands.
    • Do a few stretches and loosening movements of the shoulders and arms before settling in to work. Do them often during the day.
  • Keep hands warm, with gloves if necessary.
  • Get regular aerobic exercise such as walking or swimming.
  • Cut down on caffeine and smoking, which may reduce blood flow to your hands.

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