As we wrote about yesterday, carpal tunnel (CTS) is a condition that affects 15 out of every 100,000 people. For office workers, the problem can become debilitating and affect overall job performance. There are means of preventing and treating CTS, however. The following tools can begin to help you prevent the condition if you don’t have it, or alleviate symptoms if you do.
If you are experiencing pain, discuss these types of tools with your healthcare provider before adding them to your workstation. Using the wrong tool may actually increase your levels of pain.
When using a computer, endeavor to keep your wrists in a neutral position at all times. Some tools that help do this are palm and wrist rests for the mouse and keyboard. Even when using these devices, make sure not to place too much pressure on them. Instead, adjust your chair or desk until your wrists are properly aligned and level with your elbows.
Some studies have also found that ergonomic keyboards encourage a more natural and comfortable fit for hands and wrists. According to a study at Cornell, researchers found that there was significantly less upper limb muscle discomfort when using an ergonomic keyboard. Users have many options for these, from fixed-split keyboards that are most similar to standard keyboards to fully split or perpendicular models. Low-pressure keyboards are also another option that require less pressure from the user to type.
Besides these two tools, there are others that may be beneficial depending on the type of work that you do. These may include:
- An ergonomically designed computer mouse
- A phone headset to reduce tension from holding a phone between your ear and shoulder
- Monitor raisers so your monitor is at eye-level
- Wrist braces for those with moderate to severe carpal tunnel syndrome
If you’re using a laptop, you’ll want to give even more consideration to these some of these tools as laptops are often not ergonomically designed.
If you do want to start using any of these tools, talk to your human resources department first to see if your company is willing to cover the cost. Oftentimes, spending money on preventative measures such as these are more cost-effective for a company than a workers’ compensation claim or injury.
Do you have any suggestions for office tools that can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome? Share them in the comments below!
Image by Victor1558 via Flickr