Most people’s jobs involve repetitive movements of the hands and wrists, like typing for long hours at a time. Whether you’re far into your career or just getting started, there are some actions you can take to guard against the effects of carpal tunnel. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by consistent strain or pressure on the median nerve and tendons that run through your wrists to your hands.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel can include tingling in the hands or wrists, sharp pain, numbness, and decreased mobility. This condition can take years to develop, and it’s important to take precautions from the get-go. However, if you’re already feeling some of the effects, there are some holistic tips you can try to decrease your pain and increase your ease of movement.
If you haven’t felt any symptoms yet, but want to prevent carpal tunnel from developing, try these pointers:
- Move as much as you can at work. Avoid maintaining the exact same position for more than 45 minutes at a time.
- Keep warm. Often, people who frequently have cold hands are more prone to developing carpal tunnel. Keep your circulation strong.
- Try to use each hand evenly. Don’t let one overcompensate for the other.
- Maintain correct posture at your desk. The longer you sit on one position in front of a computer, the more you’re likely to slouch. Slouching puts strain on the neck and shoulders, which in turn affect your wrists and hands.
- If you’re working on a keyboard, try to keep your forearms level with the keyboard. Avoid bending your wrists for long periods of time.
If you’ve begun noticing signs of carpal tunnel, or have already been diagnosed, try some of these holistic tips for pain relief:
- Try wearing a wrist splint. This can ensure that your wrists remain level, don’t bend, and can also take some pressure off your median nerve.
- Get a massage. Massage can work wonders for sore muscles, and can also address the bigger picture. It may be your wrists that consistently hurt, but getting consistent massages that treat neck and shoulder pain can help reduce the strain you put on your wrists at work.
- Rest. If at all possible, take some time away from the computer. Mix up what you do during the day so your wrists aren’t always in one position.
- Yoga is a form of exercise that can help relieve your wrist pain. It can increase your circulation, promotes gentle stretching of sore muscle groups, and increase mobility.
- Acupuncture is a natural alternative to try, especially before deciding on surgery for carpal tunnel. Acupuncture can reduce pain and increase mobility. It can also work as a complementary treatment if you do need surgery, as acupuncture can speed up your recovery process.
A fundamental of Chinese medicine is to not just treat the symptoms of a disorder, but to discover the cause and work on a treatment that targets the root of a problem. When working on your carpal tunnel, be sure you know what’s causing your symptoms and try to develop your plan accordingly. Is it long hours in front of the computer every day? Understandably, it may not be possible to overhaul your life and quit your job, but there are still some changes you can make to help. You can mix it up. Keep a squeeze ball on your desk and set a timer to stretch your hands every 40 minutes. Go on a walk at lunch instead of eating at your desk (where you’re compelled to surf the internet and be on the computer even during your break). Small steps add up. It’s never too late to make a difference in your health and to impact how you feel each day.
Interested in more? Check out our article on massage for carpal tunnel, or our feature on how Thai massage can open joints and solve muscle pain.