Typing all day can be a pain in the wrist! I'm talking about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), which occurs when the median nerve, running from the forearm into the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist. This nerve runs through the narrow carpal tunnel at the base of the hand, and controls sensations to the palm side of your thumb and fingers. It also signals movement in small hand muscles, creating motion in the fingers and thumb.
Women, whose smaller carpal tunnels make them more prone to developing this problem, are three times more likely than men to develop CTS. The tingly and painful syndrome can be caused by injury or fluid retention during pregnancy, but the most common causes are repetitive motions like typing and mousing.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, try these suggestions:
- Alter your desk ergonomics as needed. Adjust the height of your chair so your forearms are level with your keyboard so your wrists don't need to flex while typing.
- Use a wrist pad ($9) that runs the length of your keyboard, propping up the heels of your palms, so your forearms, wrists, and hands are in one straight line. This position should prevent the median nerve from getting squeezed. If your mousing hand bothers you, try a mouse pad ($14) with extra cushioning to support your wrist.
There are three other suggestions, so
- Using an ergonomic keyboard ($60) may provide space for the nerve by keeping your hands and wrists in a more natural position.
- Try a vertical mouse ($53) that places your wrist in an more ergonomic position with your thumb pointing up. Or experiment with a Wacom Mouse Tablet ($100).
- Take regular breaks from mousing and typing. Shake out your wrists and do some wrist stretches.