“The Secretary’s Curse:” How to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The peculiar name of this syndrome refers more generally to people who spend their entire working day using a keyboard and mouse. Carpal tunnel syndrome originates in the bones of the wrist (known as the carpus zone). Find out more about this problem and how to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome in today’s article.
Want to know more about “the secretary’s curse?”
Speaking strictly from a medical point of view, it’s “a cumulative trauma caused by constant and repetitive motions that strain the hands and wrists.”
That means when you perform the same activity on a regular basis, you could end up suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
It can also occur if you sleep with your hands folded beneath your body or the pillow. There are even certain sports that can cause this syndrome, such as tennis or weight lifting.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes inflammation in your tendons and compression in the middle of your wrist, right on a nerve that’s halfway between the bones of your wrist and the ligaments of your fingers.
- Numbness in the thumb, index, or middle finger
- Tingling in the hand or wrist
- Pain in the hand or wrist
- Numbness in the region at night
- Inability to grip objects
- A hot sensation in the fingers
- Pain that radiates out to the elbow
- Coordination problems or tremors in the fingers
- Hands that are always cold
While anyone can experience this problem, the most common sufferers are women between 40 and 60 years old.
See also What causes hand and wrist pain?
Recommendations to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and don’t want the problem to worsen, we recommend that you change some of the habits that might be causing it.
True, it might be impossible to quit your job or stop using that hand. However, there are ways you can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from worsening:
Maintain a neutral hand position
Ideally, your wrist or hand should be extended. To achieve this, the keyboard should be positioned in a way that your forearms can rest and you don’t need to bend the wrist.
This will also facilitate fewer problems with sore arms, shoulders, neck, or back.
Hold objects with your entire hand
Avoid letting just one or two fingers do all the work when you’re reaching, lifting, or unscrewing something. When you only use your index finger and thumb you’re putting a lot more pressure on your wrist. Try to use your whole hand and alternate between using the left and the right.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
It’s important that you ensure that your veins are in good condition with healthy circulation throughout your body. That way blood will flow to your hands without any blockages. This might help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from developing.
Among the many good habits you can adopt to improve the condition of you veins are getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, not smoking, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, and maintaining a balanced diet.
Choose ergonomic designs
There are different things that are designed to make your hands and wrists more comfortable. Keyboard and mouse pads are one example. This helps reduce some of the pressure while you’re at work.
If your company won’t supply you with one of these, buy one for yourself – it’s worth it because it may help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
Do localized exercises
Who says you can’t exercise the wrists? It’s important for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome! Some interesting options include:
- Making circles with your wrists. With your palms facing down and out, twist both wrists to the right five times, and then to the left five times.
- Finger extensions. Stretch them out straight as far as you can and hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat this at least 3 times a day.
- Thumb tension. Grab your thumb with the opposite hand. Pull it back until you feel a slight pressure. Be careful not to pull too quickly or too hard because you can dislocate the bone, causing a lot of pain.
- Tighten the hand. Clench your fist as tightly as you can. You can use a small rubber ball or a stress ball. Squeeze and release about 10 times with each hand.
- Lift a little weight. Always have a small hand weight of no more than five pounds. You can either buy one or fill a water bottle with some sand or dirt.
- Sit at your desk or table. Support your forearm on the surface and let your hand fall loose. Hold a weight in your hand and seesaw the wrist. Repeat this 10 times and then switch sides.
These are all things that you can do while you’re on the phone, watching a movie, or riding the subway.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Leung, D. (2014). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-385157-4.00652-7
- Peters, S., Page, M. J., Coppieters, M. W., Ross, M., & Johnston, V. (2016). Rehabilitation following carpal tunnel release. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004158.pub3
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