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Steer Clear of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Here's the ideal cure for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS): Don't get it in the first place.

Prevention is the best way to deal with CTS, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), which offers the following advice on how to do that.

First, avoid activities that require excessive up-and-down and side-to-side movements of the wrist. When you're working, ensure your hands are in the proper position. Your arm, wrist and hand must be in a straight line, and your elbows at a 90-degree angle to your desk, keyboard or work table.

This is necessary to avoid bending, which can cause friction and inflammation.

Make sure you take frequent breaks. Stretch, stand up and walk around. Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon about wrist splints to limit wrist movement. Avoid applying direct pressure to the heel of your hand. That includes push-ups or pressing hard on the seat surface when you get up from your chair.

Don't wear restrictive watchbands or jewelry or clothes that have tight elastic sleeves.

Learn to use your computer mouse safely. Choose a mouse that lets you work with an open, relaxed posture and don't squeeze or grip the mouse between your thumb and little finger. Don't twist the mouse side to side -- move it with the entire arm.

Keep your mouse close to the keyboard. Don't have it out to the side of the desk. Don't use a wrist rest. That doubles the pressure inside the carpal tunnel.

If you do start having pain in your wrist, get immediate attention.

"To prevent serious injury and maybe permanent damage, you should pay prompt attention to the first twinges of pain or discomfort," says Dr. Vernon T. Tolo, AAOS president.

"However, wrist pain may not necessarily mean carpal tunnel syndrome. There are other conditions that may cause these symptoms, and it is important that an orthopaedic surgeon evaluate any wrist pain to rule out other causes," he says.

More information

CTS affects thousands of people and costs employers billions of dollars a year. You can learn more about it at the AAOS.


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