Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) stems from too much pressure on the median nerves that run through your wrists. One of the most common hand and wrist conditions, it can cause a range of bothersome symptoms that make going about your daily life and even sleeping difficult.
If your symptoms seem to spike after working from home, some changes may be in order.
Board-certified orthopedic sports medicine surgeon Dr. Stephen Fisher and the team at our offices in Cumming and Buford, Georgia, are pleased to diagnose and treat carpal tunnel syndrome to bring you lasting relief.
Read on to learn more about CTS, including how various work-from-home habits can exacerbate your symptoms.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
The nerve compression brought on by CTS affects people differently, but most everyone dealing with it experiences pain, tingling, or numbness.
Early on, carpal tunnel syndrome often causes numbness at night as well as tingling or pain in your fingers — particularly your thumbs, middle fingers, and index fingers. These issues may jolt you awake, leading to frustration and daytime sleepiness.
Gradually, you may notice tingling and reduced sensation in your fingers during the day. As a result, you may struggle to grasp firmly or hold objects. Tasks such as handwriting and typing may grow increasingly difficult.
As CTS progresses, symptoms tend to grow more intense and shift from periodic to constant. In the most severe cases, muscles near your thumb may atrophy, visibly shrinking in size.
Work habits that worsen CTS
Your work environment alone won’t determine your carpal tunnel pain or numbness, but it can play a role.
Let’s say you switch from working at a desk in an office, where you sat up straight, to working from home, where you slump over a computer on your couch. The poor posture and arm alignment of the latter can easily strain your median nerves, causing worse symptoms.
You might also struggle with worsening carpal tunnel pain if you fail to take breaks or stop working at a reasonable time — which may be more challenging without the set schedule or routine of a traditional office.
Managing carpal tunnel syndrome while working from home
One of the best ways to keep your work habits from fueling CTS symptoms is to make your setup more ergonomic.
When working on a laptop or tablet, your wrists should align with your elbows, which should bend at a roughly 90-degree angle. To do that, consider an ergonomic keyboard or laptop stand that keeps the screen at about eye level. An adjustable chair or desk may also help.
Meanwhile, aim to take a break from work every 30 minutes or so. During your breaks, walk around and take a few moments to stretch your hands and arms.
When to seek medical care for your CTS
If you can’t get a handle on your carpal tunnel symptoms on your own, professional treatment can go far. Depending on the specifics of your condition, Dr. Fisher may recommend:
- A splint to wear at night and/or while working
- Physical therapy
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
- Steroid injections
If conservative measures aren’t enough, you may be a candidate for carpal tunnel surgery, which has a high success rate. In many cases, however, you can avoid surgery through lifestyle changes and less-invasive treatments.
To learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome while working at home or get the care you need, call one of our convenient locations or book an appointment through our website today.