As we get further into November, the holidays are fast approaching. Traditionally, that means Thanksgiving dinners followed by a December filled with holiday parties and family time.
However, another tradition for many Americans also starts in earnest – online shopping! Although Black Friday is historically a big shopping event, Cyber Monday has become one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.
Don’t let increased clicking and computer time cause carpal tunnel syndrome to worsen and affect your ability to grab that expiring deal, or even your day-to-day activities.
Carpal tunnel syndrome involves a small bony tunnel in the wrist where tendons and a nerve called the median nerve travel from the forearm to the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when pressure from thickening of the ligamentous tissue overlying the bony carpal tunnel 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:
- Tingling and numbness in the hand or wrist, mainly on the palmar side
- Sharp pain that shoots up the arm or down to the fingers
- Hand stiffness or cramping, especially in the early morning
- Trouble making a fist
- Hand weakness and clumsiness
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:
- An ergonomic keyboard, mouse and writing pens
- A wrist cushion placed in front of your keyboard
- A vertical computer mouse
Your physician may also recommend local cortisone injections 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.