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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Online Shopping: 5 Symptoms to Watch Out For

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Online shopping continues to grow across the United States and around the world. By 2026, experts predict 230.6 million people in the United States will do their shopping online. Don’t let all that clicking and computer time cause carpal tunnel syndrome to worsen and affect your day-to-day activities.

Carpal tunnel syndrome describes what happens to a small tunnel in the wrist, the floor of which is made of bones and the roof is a fibrous ligament. A nerve called the median nerve and tendons travel from the forearm to the hand through this tunnel. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when pressure increases inside the tunnel. Pressure can increase from swelling of the tendons and nerve inside the tunnel, or from thickening of the ligamentous tissue overlying the bony carpal tunnel. Increased pressure causes the underlying median nerve to become inflamed. This can occur from overuse, repetitive motion, poor position during use (bad ergonomics), trauma or during pregnancy.

Symptoms can include:

  1. Tingling and numbness in the hand or wrist, mainly on the palm side of the thumb, index, long and ring fingers
  2. Sharp pain that shoots up the arm or down to the fingers
  3. Hand stiffness or cramping, especially in the early morning
  4. Trouble making a fist
  5. Hand weakness, clumsiness and dropping objects

When should I see a doctor?

There are numerous treatment options, depending on the severity of symptoms. These include rest, night splinting and stretching exercises. It is important to use proper typing techniques while using a keyboard and mouse by placing them level with or lower than your elbows to avoid working with excessively flexed wrists.

Supplies and accessories to help support your wrists include:

  1. An ergonomic keyboard, mouse and writing pens
  2. A wrist cushion placed in front of your keyboard
  3. A vertical computer mouse

Your physician may also recommend local cortisone injections into the wrist and anti-inflammatory medication. When symptoms persist despite all appropriate medical management, mini-incision outpatient surgical options that involve minimal downtime may offer the best lasting cure of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Learn more about orthopedic surgeon Carol Meyer, MD. 

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