Monday, March 21, 2011

Ouch! Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Making repetitive hand and/or wrist movements can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). If you are an artist or crafter this is something you know all to well. However, for those of you new to crafting CTS is something you will want avoid. The signs of CTS are tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in your fingers or hand. I have CTS and I can tell you it's literally and figuratively be a big pain.

How to prevent flare-ups or to avoid getting CTS

Practice good posture and correct movements. Some positions can put less strain on your body and more comfortable to be in especially when working over a long period of time. When doing activities such as typing, knitting, stitching, etc you will want to keep your forearms parallel or slightly lower to the floor. Keep your wrists and hands in line with your arms or only slightly bent. Never have them bent or twisted for any long length of time. Use hand and wrist movements that spread pressure and motion evenly thought out your hand and wrist. When working if you have to exert force position your work at waist height or slightly lower. Remember to take frequent breaks when doing these repetitive activates and stretch your hands and wrists. Changing your position when working occasionally will go a long way to help.

Take care of your hands and wrists. Try to keep your wrist in a neutral position. Hold a glass of water this is an example of a neutral wrist position. (See photo for neutral hand position.) If you have to work with vibrating tools (drills, sanders, etc) use gloves specially designated to support the wrist and absorb the vibration. Reduce the speed and force of your hand movements such as typing softer and not pounding the keys or crocheting a little slower. Watch your grip, if to tight it will cause strain. Gripping things with only your thumb and index finger can cause stress. Grasp tools and other objects with your whole hand whenever possible. This is worth repeating: Take frequent breaks and stretch your hands and wrists.

How to reduce CTS symptoms

Immediately stop doing the activity that is causing the numbness and pain. I know some of you will be tempted go back an work but believe me, it is far better to rest for the day then to do serious harm and be out of commission for weeks. Ice your wrist for 10 -15 minutes once or twice an hour and take an NSAID to relive pain and reduce swelling.  Wear a wrist splint designed to hold your wrist in a neutral position.

I hope you found this information helpful and if you practice these tips, they will help you avoid or at least reduce CTS.

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