The Hand Center welcomes Jill Putnam, MD to the practice! Dr. Putnam will start September 1st.

Is My Hand Problem Work-Related?

When something goes wrong in your hands and wrists, your first clue might not be pain. Instead, you could feel tingling, numbness, or weakness through your hands and fingers. It’s often the first sign of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) due to pressure or irritation of the median nerve in your wrist. A common factor of CTS is repetitive strain. Regular and repeated use of your wrists and hands can create these issues, common to office and factory workers. 

Without treatment, CTS symptoms can become permanent or lead to further complications. Since early treatment often leads to less downtime and faster recovery, contact The Hand Center at any of its four Connecticut locations whenever you suspect a problem with your hands, even if you’re not yet experiencing pain. 

Work-related CTS

You’re at risk of CTS when your job requires a limited range of motion for your hands and wrists, often combined with awkward or strained postures, such as when your hands are angled up, relative to your wrists. Often, simple attention to detail will improve your body mechanics enough to reduce the forces that can cause the carpal tunnel to collapse on and irritate the median nerves. 

The ergonomic perspective

Whether you sit at a computer or stand at machine controls, it’s easy to forget about the importance of proper ergonomics. But, good workplace ergonomics can help reduce repetitive stress injuries.

To avoid putting excess strain on your hands and wrists, adjust your workstation to neutralize the impact on your hands. Adjust an office chair to assure your keyboard is positioned level to your forearms. This approach can encourage a neutral wrist position and also help avoid unnatural, stressful wrist flexing while typing. 

Potential adjustments to other equipment may not be as easy. However, fully explore what you can change about your workstation for both comfort and efficiency. 

Prime positioning

Simple attention to good posture while working pays dividends throughout your body, not only your hands. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or walking, rounded shoulders or a hunched back can put excess strain on your body, including your arms, wrists, and hands.

While you’re working, be sure to keep your shoulders squared, your chin parallel to the floor, and your arms in a relaxed position. Avoid gripping objects tightly, such as your phone, pens, or machine controls, and avoid resting your wrists on desks or other horizontal surfaces when typing or using your mouse. When you rest your wrist in one place, you’ll twist your hands and fingers in awkward positions to perform your work, causing unnecessary stress.

Repetition without strain

It’s not always realistic to avoid repetitive tasks, especially in the workplace. You can, however, reduce the strain by taking frequent breaks to rest your hands and perform quick exercises of the wrists. Stretching the hands and wrists through motions that aren’t part of your regular tasks helps to encourage normal function while relieving nerve irritation. 

If you suspect that your job is causing discomfort or pain in your hands, contact The Hand Center by phone or online to schedule a consultation. There’s no need to tolerate the limitations that CTS or other hand issues may cause, so book your appointment today.

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