Monday, March 16, 2015

Pain and Strain: Fighting Carpal Tunnel in the Workplace

Who says working at a desk is a no-pain gig? Not us. Just because a job doesn't require a lot of physical labor doesn't mean you can't get injured. In fact, one of the most common desk related injuries that plagues America today is carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by long term desk work which results in pain, weakness, or tingling in the hands. If this sounds like you, do not delay action! Check out this article for helpful tips and ways to prevent carpal tunnel at work!


What is Carpal Tunnel?



For those who don't know, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is caused by a pinched median nerve in the wrist, which results in pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the hands (usually in the thumb and first and first three fingers). This is because the median nerve runs all the way though your forearm to control feeling, but it has to pass through a cramped passageway in the wrist called the "carpal tunnel." Prolonged pressure on the nerve here is what causes the symptoms of CTS.

With more than 3 million US cases of carpal tunnel reported every year, its hard to believe this condition hasn't gotten more publicity. Not surprisingly, it is a condition that's very highly associated with office and desk workers. Why? Because any activity requiring repeated hand movements, especially where the wrist is bent (such as with typing, web searching, or filing) can put stress on the median nerve, causing CTS.

How to Prevent It

Unfortunately, the only ways to correct severe carpal tunnel syndrome are through painful shocks to the nerve or even expensive surgery. However, if your doctor says the condition is not so bad, there are simple, easy ways to prevent CTS progression, and even reduce the symptoms! Check out following tips:

Stretches

Taking regular breaks to stretch your hands and wrists at work can do wonders for the symptoms of carpal tunnel. Youtube and other video-sharing sites are full of helpful tutorials, showing isometric stretches specifically targeted toward the causes of CTS. While at work, be sure to take a 4-5 minute stretching break every hour for the most significant prevention, especially if you're a typer. An arm brace can help keep your hands correctly positioned in the meantime. Investing in flexible office chairs that move as you stretch isn't just good for the health of your hands, but for the whole body!


Deskercise

Deskercising is one of the newest, most popular trends to hit the workplace since email. The health movement has made some astounding discoveries about how life in the office can negatively impact health. Thankfully, medical professionals and ergonomic experts have developed several effective desk-exercises and yoga moves to promote health in the workplace. There are websites, classes, and online video tutorials to get you started. Keeping a pair of dumbbells tucked into small office storage cabinets can help build up strength during break times.

* Bonus Tip: Zoomorphic chairs like the Chakra chair by Eurotech are specifically designed for exercise and healthful posture while at the office. The Chakra-White-Gray is just one of five amazing colors!

Go Ergo 

Shopping ergonomic office furniture for sale may be one of the best business decisions you ever make! Devices like ergonomic computer mice and adjustable keyboard trays help to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. However, remember that the effectiveness of these devices lies in how they are used. The goal of computer mice, mouse platforms, keyboard platforms, and any office products designed to promote wrist health is to keep the wrist and hands parallel to the forearm. This promotes the blood adequate flood flow and reduces pressure on the nerve that causes carpal tunnel.

* Bonus Tip: For those looking into wrist pillows or wrist rests to use at the office - don't! These devices may help those who suffer from wrist fatigue, but for the CTS victim, using a wrist rest can almost double the pressure on the median nerve, actually worsening CTS symptoms.

Strike A Pose

Workplace health is all about proper posture. Nearly all of the leading office-related pains: neck pain, back pain, arm pain, leg pain, and especially carpal tunnel pain can all be traced back to improper posture. Ergonomic experts recommend keeping the body positioned in a series of angles. A straight, upright sitting posture, facing forward, with elbows and knees bent at right angles is the best way for desk workers to sit. Keeping the hands and wrists parallel to the forearms (not bent up or down to type) is the best way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

* Bonus Tip: Ergonomic chairs like the 6670-2 Global Arti help to promote good posture. This high quality desk chair is designed to move with the human spine for constant support. Adding a monitor arm to your office setup helps to ensure proper viewing practices for computer users. Keeping the head upright, facing forward can help reduce muscle pain in the neck and back.

Stay Active!

Staying active is the key to any healthy lifestyle. For those working in an office, the truth is no different. Making sure to take brief, frequent breaks in the office to stretch and exercise can help ensure user health so you can go on working. For sufferers of CTS, the first part about stretching is critical. Be proactive, take the stairs, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, eat right, and your body will reward you with energy and a positive outlook to keep you going.

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