Ask the Expert: Julia Doty, Occupational Therapist, Answers Questions on Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
by Julia Doty
Q1. I spend a lot of time at work typing on the keyboard and my wrist sometimes hurt. What can I do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
To prevent carpal tunnel when using the keyboard, you want to practice proper ergonomics. To do this, it is important to make sure that your wrists are in a neutral or straight position when using the keyboard. You do not want your wrists to be bent up or down or side to side when typing and using the mouse. Every hour or so you should take a break to rest your hands and alternate tasks whenever possible. If you’re experiencing pain, consult with a physician for treatment.
Q2. I’m two months pregnant and read that pregnant women can get carpal tunnel syndrome. How do I prevent it from happening?
You want to keep your wrists in a straight position while you sleep. Try not to sleep with your wrists in a bent up or down position- this can aggravate the median nerve at the wrist or carpal tunnel. If you feel tingling or numbness in your hands, please consult your physician.
Q3. I have arthritis and my wrist hurts sometimes. Are there exercises I can do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
Keep your fingers moving so that you do not get stiff. There are no exercises that you can do to prevent carpal tunnel. Try to avoid repetitive wrist motion- this can lead to carpal tunnel. Consult with a physician for your wrist pain.
Q4. I play tennis for a few hours throughout the week. Are there stretches I can do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
I do not recommend any stretches for preventing carpal tunnel. You may want to use your bigger arm muscles to swing the racket while you are playing tennis. You do not want to overuse your wrist when swinging the racket. Try to avoid repetitive wrist motion when playing tennis. Also use a racket with a larger handle to reduce your grip. This will help to avoid aggravation of the median nerve at the wrist. Consult with a physician before starting an exercise regimen.
Q5. I like to knit everyday but I’m afraid I’ll get carpal tunnel syndrome. Is there a brace I can wear to prevent carpal tunnel?
When knitting, try to keep your wrists in a straight or neutral position. You can also wear a wrist brace to keep your wrists in a straight or neutral position. It is important to take breaks and rest your hands while knitting as well.
Julia Doty is an occupational and hand therapist at the Joint Mobility Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.