How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel | IMPACT Physical Therapy

How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel

white woman sitting at laptop holding her hand due to carpal tunnel pain

If you have persistent tingling or numbness in your fingers, you’re most likely suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Your median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel—a narrow path in your wrist—where it can become compressed due to repetitive hand and wrist movements. This can cause the median nerve to become squeezed or pinched, which in turn causes the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Although there’s no silver bullet for preventing this type of pain in your wrist and hand, a multi-pronged approach can be very effective at preventing and relieving carpal tunnel symptoms. Take a look at our top tips for how to prevent carpal tunnel, below—and be sure to reach out to one of our physical therapists with any questions about how to avoid carpal tunnel by changing your habits, introducing targeted stretches, or scheduling physical therapy.

Change Your Habits

Evaluate your everyday habits and see if there’s anything you can do in a way that puts less stress on your hands and wrists. You may well find that there are many things you can do with less force, or do differently.

Hand & Wrist Stretches

Especially if your job requires repetitive hand and wrist movements, it’s important to build breaks into your day to rest your muscles. This is also a good time to loosen your hand and finger muscles with stretches: 

  • Make a fist, and then slide your fingers up until they point straight out. Repeat 5-10 times.
  • Make a fist, fan out your fingers, and stretch them as far as you can. Repeat 5-10 times.

Adjust Your Posture

Greater awareness of your posture and the position of your hands and arms can go a long way:

  • Try to keep your wrist in a straight, neutral position to relieve pressure on the median nerve. 
  • A wrist brace can help you to do this more effectively during activities that trigger your symptoms, or even while you sleep. 
  • Where possible, perform activities with your opposite hand instead. You might also try switching up the normal order in which you do a series of tasks to give your muscles a break.
  • If your symptoms are triggered by working at a computer, make sure that the position of your keyboard doesn’t require you to bend your wrists, and keep your elbows close to your sides.

Ask for Accommodations

If you’ve already done everything you can to relieve carpal tunnel symptoms at work on your own, it’s time to speak with your supervisor. You may be able to adjust your workstation setup, use a different type of desk, or trade certain tasks with co-workers. You might also speak with your manager if staffing issues are causing you to miss your breaks. Taking breaks on a regular basis is crucial, as it gives you a rest and allows you to stretch your hands and wrists.

See a Physical Therapist to Relieve Your Wrist and Hand Pain 

Even if you know how to prevent carpal tunnel, you still may experience symptoms. If that’s the case, there’s more that you can do to reduce wrist pain. A licensed physical therapist can provide targeted manual therapy and exercises to stretch and strengthen your hands and wrists. Schedule an appointment at the IMPACT Physical Therapy facility nearest to you or request a virtual visit today! You can find us in downtown Chicago, the southwest suburbs, and Champaign Urbana.