Carpal tunnel is a very common problem among office workers who spend most of their day sitting at a computer and typing on a keyboard. Symptoms of the condition include numbness, tingling, and pain in the wrists and hands and can make the act of typing difficult. The fact that desk jobs require a lot of typing means it’s hard for people to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome without ergonomic changes.
One of the causes of carpal tunnel is most definitely the result of excessive typing and repeated flexing of the wrists, but it can be alleviated through proper medical care, making ergonomic changes to the workspace, and sometimes surgery. Some individuals have such severe cases of carpal tunnel that they can no longer make a living at any type of position that requires constant flexing of the wrists and need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance for income. Here’s a look at how to avoid carpal tunnel at the desk job and stay pain-free.
A Look Into the Cause of Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) arises when the median nerve gets squeezed at the wrist. The median nerve runs from the forearm to the palm of the hand and runs through the carpal tunnel at the base of the hand. Inflammation from overuse of the structures around the tunnel cause compression on the median nerve and results in numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and wrist. It’s a debilitating condition that can greatly affect someone’s ability to type comfortably. Avoiding CTS can be done by making changes at work that create an ergonomic typing environment, and lessen the strain on the wrists.
Changing the Office Furniture
Desks in the U.S. have a standard height of 29″ from the floor to surface. This standard has been around for a long time and is considered an optimal height for users. However, it doesn’t accommodate people of different heights and arm lengths. Someone with short stature winds up typing in an upward and flexed wrist position while someone who is taller will type with a downward flex to their hands. Both positions put a strain on the median nerve and can lead to CTS.
Using sit-stand desks or lift desks like the one that Goldtouch offers is an efficient way to accommodate users of all heights and allow them to keep their hands in a neutral position while working. The lift desk goes on top of an existing desk and alleviates the need to buy new furniture.
Using Ergonomic Peripherals
Ergonomic keyboards and other devices are all the rage due to their ability to reduce fatigue and adjustability. Being able to spread the keyboard apart to accommodate a natural hand position, then “tent” each half on a preferred angle is an excellent way to neutralize wrist position, straighten the hands, and reduce twisting while typing on the keyboard. Now it’s possible to make a keyboard adjust to the user instead of the user adjusting to the keyboard.
Add an ergonomic mouse to the computer for additional comfort. A traditional mouse encourages the user to flex their wrist in positions that put pressure on the median nerve. An ergonomic mouse puts the hand in a neutral position and at an angle that depends on the design. The design of an ergonomic mouse is more natural than the bent wrist hand position that the traditional mouse requires for operation.
People who work in data entry or frequently engage in ten-key data input can suffer CTS from using the keypad on a keyboard. The position of the keypad on the keyboard makes it harder for left-hand users to type and can force the user to push their mouse out of the way in order to comfortably use the keys. A numeric keypad alleviates these issues through stand-alone operation and the ability to position it in a place where it’s most comfortable for the user.
Wearing Wrist Support
Putting on a wrist brace or a splint is the number one recommended treatment for carpal tunnel. They keep a wearer from turning their hands and wrist into positions that put pressure on the median nerve. A brace also compresses the affected tendons and muscles in the wrist and alleviates inflammation, another source of pain. Be careful with braces as they can weaken muscles with too much use.
When Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Goes On for Too Long
Carpal tunnel syndrome is classified as an entrapment neuropathy. It’s recommended to get treatment sooner than later in order to start the healing process, but not everyone seeks out treatment right away. Too much inflammation over a period of time may require surgery which has mixed results. Surgery may not be successful and the ongoing pain can prevent someone from going back to their desk job which leads to going on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Social Security does recognize carpal tunnel as a legitimate disability, but it’s possible to be denied disability even if there’s strong documentation that shows CTS prevents someone from working at their accustomed role.
Go Ergonomic and Get Relief From Strain
Adding ergonomic peripherals and furniture into the office space is easy and straightforward with Goldtouch’s extensive line of ergonomic products. Goldtouch features a number of keyboards, mice, a sit/stand desk converter and other accessories to help alleviate the conditions that can lead to carpal tunnel. The EasyLift Desk rests on top of an existing desk and has a keyboard tray so you look straight ahead at your monitor while your wrists are held in a neutral or straight position. Connect an ergonomic keyboard from Goldtouch that features soft-touch keys and adjustable angles to the computer, and you’ve got an arrangement that prevents carpal tunnel syndrome from being an issue at work.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is something that’s avoidable with the right kind of ergonomic office furniture, peripherals, and accessories. They’re a small investment when compared to the costs of doctor’s visits, medications, and treatments required once CTS sets in and becomes harder to alleviate.