The Importance of Ergonomics for Hand Health & Carpal Tunnel

ergonomic work areaIf you’re struggling with the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and they don’t seem to be improving, there may be another step you can take before visiting a hand and wrist surgeon for further treatment. One area that’s important to examine is the science of ergonomics, which can help you set up your workstation in a way that’s beneficial to your body.

Why Ergonomics Matter

If you work primarily at a desk, you may not realize the strain that your workday is putting on your body. Long hours sitting in a chair that doesn’t provide the proper support for correct spinal alignment, or that is too high from the floor or too low to your desk surface, can put strain on your neck, back, and arms, including your hands and wrists.

The principle of ergonomics is finding a way to make the job work with the workers’ bodies rather than forcing the worker into positions or situations that could impact his or her long-term health. This includes vision strain, comfort level and physical stressors placed on the muscles, joints and bones through the course of your shift.

How Ergonomics Help

Ergonomic chairs, keyboards and other computer and desk accessories are designed to work in harmony with the natural tendencies of the human body rather than against them. For example, an ergonomic keyboard may have slightly angled keys or even split apart down the middle to allow the hands to work in their natural position. A standard keyboard forces the hands and wrists inward at a sharper angle, putting strain on the wrists that could lead to the development of health conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. Part of an effective carpal tunnel treatment in Denver is taking a proactive, preventative approach; reducing the impact from repetitive motions can help eliminate wrist strain that could cause injury and strain.

Adjustable chairs and keyboards help each individual worker find a position that works best for them. This helps employees stay healthier, which means happier employees as well as lower health insurance costs for their employers.

Improving Your Health

It’s not hard to imagine how spending 40 or more hours per week sitting in the same unhealthy position and repeating the same stress-inducing motions can wreak havoc on your body, including contributing to such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome. If you notice that your hands and wrists ache at the end of the evening, or experience pain, numbness or tingling in your hands, wrists or forearms throughout the workday, it might be time to think about making your workstation more ergonomic.

Some of the ways you can make your workspace more comfortable include investing (or asking your employer to invest in) an office chair that fits you correctly. Your knees should rest slightly lower than your hips with your feet flat on the floor, and the back of the chair should offer curved lumbar support for your spine. You can also look into wrist rests that help offer extra support while typing, or using a fully ergonomic keyboard and mouse combination to ensure that your hands are kept in their natural alignment as you type.

Finally, no matter how comfortable you make your work area, be sure to take breaks throughout the day to get up and walk around, including shaking out your hands and wrists to encourage pressure release on the carpal tunnel and relieve tight joints and muscles. By taking a few proactive measures throughout your day, you can save your wrists and hands cumulative strain, and help keep carpal tunnel at bay.

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