Warning: Carpal tunnel syndrome ahead
Performing the same task over and over (such as typing on the computer) can cause inflammation in tendons and the median nerve, which runs from your forearm to your fingers. You may know it as carpal tunnel syndrome. Age, heredity, gender (women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome) and certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can also play a role in developing it. As irritated tendons thicken or swelling occurs in the area, the nerve can be compressed, causing symptoms such as:
- numbness, tingling or pain, especially on the thumb side of the hand
- the feeling of being shocked, especially in area of the thumb and nearby fingers
- pain that radiates toward the shoulder
- distorted muscles at the base of the thumb (in very severe cases)
These symptoms usually begin gradually; eventually, even grabbing an object may become difficult. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider. Possible treatment options include resting your hand, splints, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, and surgery.
It's possible to prevent carpal tunnel, too. Taking regular breaks from repeated hand movements, making sure your forearms are level with your keyboard and losing weight can all help. Ask your provider for more tips on keeping carpal tunnel syndrome at bay.