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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Check your sleeping position.
- Check the ergonomics of your workplace.
- Check the tools you use at work.
- Warm up before and during work.
- Avoid caffeine and tobacco.
- Minimize repetitive hand movements when possible.
- Alternate between activities or tasks to reduce the strain on your body.
- When using your wrists, keep them straight and let your arms and shoulders share the stress.
- Use your whole hand or both hands to pick up an item.
- Avoid holding an object the same way for a long time.
If you work in an office, adjust your desk, chair, and keyboard so you are in the best possible position:
- Back straight
- Feet flat on the floor or resting on a footrest
- Knees level with or slightly lower than your hips
- Shoulders in a neutral position, not forward or back
- Elbows bent at a 90 degree angle
- Forearms parallel to the floor and wrists straight
Take breaks at least once an hour to:
- Rest or shake your hands.
- Massage the palms and backs of your hands.
- Do a few stretches and loosening movements of the shoulders and arms before beginning work. Do them often during the day.
- Keep hands warm, with gloves if necessary.
- Avoid holding an object or tool the same way for a long time.
- Minimize time using vibrating tools. If this is not possible, then take frequent breaks and do the warm-up program listed below.
- Use gloves that dampen vibration.
- Hold your hands in front of you as if pushing on a wall. Count to five.
- Relax your wrists and fingers.
- Make tight fists with both hands.
- Bend both fists downward. Count to five.
- Repeat each step ten times.
- Shake your arms loosely while hanging at your side.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00005 . Updated December 2009. Accessed August 21, 2013.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/CarpalTunnelSyndrome.aspx . Published 2011. Accessed August 21, 2013.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated August 6, 2013. Accessed August 21, 2013.
Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal%5Ftunnel/detail%5Fcarpal%5Ftunnel.htm . Updated June 18, 2013. Accessed August 21, 2013.
- Reviewer: Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 09/17/2014