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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Sep 9, 2008
When the median nerve that passes through the fibrous carpal tunnel in the front of the wrist is squeezed, the result is carpal tunnel syndrome. The squeezing of the nerve is generally due to tissue inflammation as a result of activities that repeatedly flex and extend the wrist.

There are several symptoms. Pains often go down into the fingers or up into the forearms. There is numbness in the fingers except for the little finger and half of the finger nearest the little finger. Tap the front of your wrist with a finger and you may feel a sudden tingling sensation. The pain is generally worse at nighttime.

However, if you have fever, swelling or severe pain, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should also do this if there is numbness or tingling in all of your fingers.

Doctors usually recommend splinting or wearing an elastic bandage. They also recommend avoiding whatever activity causes a flare-up. Sometimes they will use injections of corticosteroid medications if the syndrome has not responded to splinting. When pain becomes too intense, surgery may be recommended. There are various surgical procedures to treat carpal tunnel.

Carpal tunnel syndrome seems to be more prevalent now that many people use keyboards all day at work. Although the research is ongoing, the problem seems to have two causes. The first is stress. The keyboard user is under pressure to type quickly or has to type for long periods of time without stopping.

The second cause is improper sitting and keyboard positioning. It is recommended that the keyboard be twenty-six inches from the floor. There are many different styles of keyboards and the typist who is experiencing wrist pain should look for one that is better adapted to their use.

The person using the keyboard should be able to sit straight in their chair with their feet flat on the floor. This may mean modifying the twenty-six inch height for some people.

When the person is sitting straight in the chair with feet flat on the floor, the elbows should be at a 90-degree angle with the forearm so that the forearms are parallel to the floor.

Wrists should be in a neutral position. The typist should never have to raise or lower their hands to touch the keyboard. The wrist should never be bent all the way forward or all the way back. If the wrist is not in the proper position, the fingers do not operate as well and keyboarding action will not be as fast. If the keyboarder is under pressure to produce a document quickly, this will cause both mental stress and physical strain on the fingers and wrist.

There are wrist rests available for support and it is recommended that people using keyboards for long periods of time consider using these.

To eliminate stress from long periods of keyboarding time or pressure to type quickly, the typist's needs brief rests periodically throughout the day.

Obviously there are other activities than computer use, which trigger carpal tunnel. So people with this problem need to identify these activities and avoid them if possible. If this is impossible, and the pain interferes with the quality of their life, then perhaps they need to seriously investigate the surgical alternatives.
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