Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among office workers, professional gamers, and other people who spend a lot of their time typing, writing, and using a computer mouse. The repetitive use of the mouse and the forceful wrist and finger movements are identified as one of the main causes of CTS, especially in people who have to use the computer and perform repetitive movements daily.
Who are the most at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Besides office workers, the risk of CTS has been reported to be high in those individuals who must operate vibrating machinery.
You might also be at greater CTS risk if:
- You’re pregnant or going through menopause – hormonal changes, like a drop in estrogen, can cause your bones and ligaments to lose density and elasticity, resulting in more frequent inflammation.
- You have diabetes or any type of arthritis. In fact, 15-20% of people with diabetes have CTS. While the actual link isn’t clear, high blood sugar levels likely cause glucose to attach to the tendon proteins.
- You had a previous injury or wrist trauma.
- You are obese or have other conditions that restrict blood and oxygen flow to your extremities. As it takes longer for damaged tissue to regenerate, therefore it’s more prone to inflammation and trauma.
According to a study done by K. Mohamed Ali and B.W.C. Sathiyasekaran, 1 out of every 8 computer professionals suffers from CTS. Their study showed how high exposure to computer work results in a more significant risk of developing CTS. They stated that people are at higher risk when the wrist is not kept in a neutral position but is flexed or extended for a long time.
As a consequence, attention to ergonomics during work is extremely important. Ergonomic chairs and ergonomic products that keep the wrists and the body in a neutral position can help prevent certain wrong movements, which in the long run, might lead to CTS. An interesting factor that came out during the study is the fact that CTS also significantly affected men and not just women.
How could our genetics increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome?
When talking about CTS, the problem resides in the structure of the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel can have two main structures: a large cross-sectional area and a small cross-sectional area. People with a small cross-sectional are genetically more likely to develop CTS due to an easier compression of the nerve caused by the little space in their wrist. A period of break from the repetitive work is suggested to cause an improvement in the symptoms that occur when CTS is present.
Aspects besides genetics
In a study by Harris-Adamson et al. (2013), they assessed that few factors, besides the genetic aspects, increase the risk of developing the syndrome. These factors are body mass index, being a woman, and older age. Women are more at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome as, genetically, they have a smaller cross-sectional area than men. But this does not exclude the possibility for men also to develop CTS.
What can you do to reduce the risks of carpal tunnel syndrome?
While carpal tunnel syndrome is a sneaky disease, there are ways to prevent and treat the condition. Prevention starts with keeping your wrists flexible and comfortable during work, playing computer games, or just using a computer or laptop.
The basic rules are:
- Take breaks between doing a lot of repetitive movement.
- Do wrist exercises to relieve the tension and help increase blood flow to your hands and fingers.
- Keep your wrist warm. Cold ligaments and muscles are more prone to trauma.
- Use a wrist rest or a wrist support band. They will keep your wrists at the right angle and ensure more comfortable movement.
If you already suffer from pain in your wrists, your doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling. In more severe cases, you might have to undergo surgery. During the operation, doctors remove inflamed tissue to give more space for the median nerve.
Can carpal tunnel syndrome go away on its own?
CTS can go away on its own in the early stages. But you still need to adjust your habits to reduce further development. If you notice pain and other CTS-related symptoms, make sure to keep your wrist in a straight position as long as possible. Stretch and exercise your wrists and wear wrist splints to keep them in the right position. You should consider cooling the inflamed area with ice packs. Physical therapy can also benefit you, as the physician will show you the right techniques to alleviate discomfort. Surgery is the last step in most cases, and most doctors recommend more conservative methods first.
Although genetic factors play an important role and should be considered, repetitive work can also put you at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Based on genetics and health history, certain individuals are more at risk than others. Prevention can also help reduce the risk of CTS in individuals who might develop it through repetitive work. Attention to ergonomics is the first step in reducing the risk of CTS.
If you want to protect your wrists or reduce discomfort, Uppo wrist support bands are exactly what you need. You put the wrist support band on your wrist, and it stays there the whole time you’re working or gaming on a computer. Soft and breathable fabric ensures that your wrist stays warm but doesn’t sweat or get irritated. Check all the available colors and take care of your wrists!