Unfortunately, that’s a daily experience of over 8 million people who live with carpal tunnel syndrome in the United States. Many of these people suffer through the pain, resort to pain medications, or even undergo surgery in an attempt to return to a more normal way of life.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a troublesome condition – but it is preventable. Like many conditions caused by overuse, you can manage carpal tunnel syndrome naturally with a few simple strategies and tips.
Read on to learn our top 8 tips for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and start protecting your wrists today!
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition that affects the wrist and forearm. It occurs when the median nerve in the wrist becomes compressed. This results in numbness, tingling, and pain in the thumb and first two fingers on one or both hands.
The median nerve controls sensation and movement in the thumb and fingers, so CTS can prevent you from being able to grasp objects, perform various tasks, and even complete routine tasks like typing or using certain tools. Many people also lose sleep due to carpal tunnel syndrome. The pain, numbness, and stiffness can increase and night and disturb your much-needed rest.
CTS is most common in people who spend a lot of time using their hands for repetitive tasks. Typing for long hours at a computer, knitting, or handiwork that involves small parts can compress the median nerve and trigger CTS symptoms.
8 Tips for Avoiding Carpal Tunnel
Unfortunately, our tech-focused modern lives make it hard to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. We are constantly using devices and more of us are working long days on our computers. Thankfully, there are many ways we can protect our wrists and avoid CTS.
Here are some tips to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:
1. Watch your wrist posture.
You probably know that slouching can cause neck or back pain. But did you know that poor wrist posture can increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
Let’s do a wrist check now. Are your wrists in a safe, neutral position? Or are they bent up or down? When your wrist is bent, you put pressure on the median nerve. Over time, this is one of the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Be sure to watch your wrist posture throughout the day and correct it when you fall out of the neutral position. If you find it hard to keep your wrists in neutral, wear a wrist brace during the day or when you sleep.
2. Improve your workstation.
If you work on a computer or have a job that requires lots of repetitive hand movements, you are at a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. One way you can reduce your risk is to set your workstation up for ergonomic success.
Few workstations are designed with healthy wrist posture in mind. To fix this, make a few simple changes to encourage that critical neutral position and overall better work posture:
- Keep your computer or work area centered in front of you.
- Have your desk as low as possible to keep your forearms parallel to the floor.
- Keep your wrists in line with your forearms, elbows close to your sides. Titling your keyboard can help with this.
- Try a V-shaped split keyboard.
- Try a standing desk and adjust it to waist height.
- Avoid leaning on your hands or wrists while typing.
3. Take breaks.
Repetitive movements most commonly cause CTS. So, it’s essential to take breaks throughout the day and change up your posture.
Set the alarm on your phone or computer every hour for a small break. Take 5 minutes to step away from your work, stretch, and drink some water. Do a few simple wrist stretches, then return to your tasks refreshed!
4. Do daily wrist exercises.
Proper exercise can help relieve stress and build resistance against carpal tunnel syndrome. An easy way to build strength is with hand weights. Use these weights to build strength in your wrist and improve circulation through your fingertips. Try a variety of carpal tunnel syndrome exercises with and without weights to train your wrists.
5. Be intentional with your movements and lighten up.
This tip might sound obvious, but often we go through the day without really thinking about what we’re doing – or how we’re doing it. Be mindful of how you sit, type, and grip things during your day. You might discover that you’re holding things more tightly than you need to. Or, you may learn that your work posture is putting strain on your wrists unnecessarily.
6. Keep stress under control.
Chronic stress is a common problem with endless repercussions. One of those consequences is median nerve irritation and CTS.
Stress makes us tense our muscles, often without even knowing we’re doing it! As a result, you could be spending most of your days with clenched fists or tight forearms (and therefore a compressed median nerve).
Keep stress levels low with a daily stress relief routine. Set aside at least 30 minutes each day to do something that helps melt your stress. This could be a walk in nature, yoga practice, a guided meditation, or an evening cup of herbal tea and a good book. Then, eliminate stress from the root with acupuncture.
7. Use an essential oil blend to relax the wrist and arm muscles.
After a long day, a gentle wrist massage with an essential oil blend can help to relieve tension, inflammation, and pain.
Essential oils like frankincense and lavender blended into a carrier oil (like almond oil) offer gentle relief. Plus, they encourage healthy blood flow to prevent chronic nerve compression and pain.
8. Prevent carpal tunnel syndrome with expert self-care.
You may not be able to completely avoid computers or stress and steer clear of carpal tunnel syndrome, but you can always act preventatively with self-care. Expert care from acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and orthopedic specialists can help you reverse the habits that lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and avoid costly and painful surgeries in the future.
Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain
Along with calming stress, acupuncture powerfully reduces pain and can help with CTS. Here’s how acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome prevention can help you stay pain-free:
Acupuncture helps to…
- Relax the muscles of the forearm to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
- Stimulate healthy blood flow through the arm and wrist to maintain healthy tissue.
- Relieve pain and heal any previous damage to the wrist.
- Reduce pain-causing inflammation.
- Calm the mind to relax tension and stress.
Avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Acupuncture at Wellnest Denver
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an irritating problem that has the potential to lower your daily quality of life significantly.
At Wellnest Denver, we believe you deserve more than that! We’ve seen the power of acupuncture and other lifestyle tips like these in reducing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms or even preventing it from occurring in the first place.
Don’t let carpal tunnel and wrist pain hold you back from doing the things you love most. Schedule a consultation today with our Denver acupuncture expert, Garryn Skurulsky, to learn more about how acupuncture can help you live pain-free!