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Care over the keyboard: Tips for preventing carpal tunnel

Every day, people throughout Chicago take off their coats, pull out their chairs and sit down at their desks for another day of work. This of course means another eight to ten hours spent sitting in front of their computer monitors, pounding away at a keyboard while they prepare reports or enter figures into a spreadsheet.

While the computer is an absolutely essential tool for most office workers, it's important to understand that it can significantly elevate your risk of developing serious nerve and wrist injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Furthermore, the risk of developing carpal tunnel isn't just confined to older workers, but rather can strike workers of any age.

Fortunately, there are some basic steps offered by experts that office workers can follow to help prevent the onset of this very serious work injury.

  • Keep an eye out for the symptoms of carpal tunnel, including numbness, weakness and a decreased ability to grasp/pinch items.
  • Maintain good posture while sitting at your workstation. This means keeping your spine situated against the back of your desk chair while keeping your shoulders relaxed and your feet flat against the floor.
  • Look straight ahead at your monitor as you type, resisting the urge to look down or to the side. This can help maintain both circulation and nerve function in the hands and arms.
  • Rest your elbows along the sides of your body and keep the wrists in an entirely neutral position. This can be accomplished by placing them atop a gel/foam pad designed to prevent the wrists from bending inward.
  • Perform exercises to strengthen the wrist and hand ligaments anywhere from daily to a few times a week.
  • Take steps to reduce/minimize rapid wrist movements.
  • Visit a physician if pain/discomfort persists.

Please visit our website to learn more about work injuries and work comp benefits.

The following is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice.

Source: The Lafayette Journal & Courier, "10 ways to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome," MaryJane Slaby, April 22, 2013

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