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How to Protect Yourself from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS is a fairly common hand and wrist disorder. It causes joint pain and numbness and makes everyday things (like buttoning your shirt) just a little harder. You might be at risk if you spend a lot of time doing something that involves forceful or repetitive hand or wrist movements. So how do you avoid it? While the cause of most cases of CTS is unknown, here are some precautions to take:

1. Avoid sleeping on your hands or bending them while you sleep. If you do this unconsciously, try wearing a wrist splint.

2. Drive with your wrists straight.

3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercising regularly will also help with flexibility and stretching. Plus, conditions like obesity and diabetes can increase the risk of developing CTS.

4. Organize your workspace ergonomically. An adjustable chair and desk is a good starting point. Then, adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard and you don't have to flex your wrists to type. It's also a good idea to take breaks while at the computer. You probably already know that you should give your eyes a break, but giving your wrists a break is just as important.

5. Be careful when doing physical activities. Not only can injuries bring on carpal tunnel, but simple hobbies like gardening, needlework, golfing, and canoeing can aggravate symptoms.

Now learn how to set up your workspace ergonomically.

Nestpert: Dr. Leo Lepuerta is a triple board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Houston, Texas. He specializes in hand and joint surgery.

-- Paula Kashtan