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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Safe Posture and Movements

Topic Overview

Repeated hand and wrist movements, especially if they are done in awkward positions such as with the wrist bent forward or back, can cause swelling or thickening of tissues within the carpal tunnel. The swelling makes the carpal tunnel smaller and puts pressure on the median nerve, which can cause tingling or pain in the wrist and hand.

These kinds of hand and wrist movements are done in every part of our lives, during:

  • Work (such as cutting meat; repairing cars; construction, especially when using vibrating tools; prolonged bar-code scanning; using a computer).
  • Daily activities (such as cooking, cleaning, gardening).
  • Hobbies (such as needlework, knitting, painting, holding a book while reading).
  • Sports (such as tennis, golf, bicycling).

Here are some things you can do to put less strain on your body:

  • For activities such as typing and knitting, keep your forearms parallel to the floor or slightly lowered.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and not raised.
  • Your wrists and hands should be in line with your arms. Your wrists should not be twisted or bent for long periods of time.
  • Position your work at waist height or slightly lower if you have to exert force.
  • Organize your work so that you can change your position now and then while you stay in a comfortable posture.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Herbert von Schroeder, MD, MSc, FRCSC - Hand and Microvascular Surgery
Last Revised October 2, 2012

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