Employees and writers all over the world often wonder “can writing cause carpal tunnel?” Most people know that writing, no matter if it is by hand with a pen or pencil or typing on a computer, is an incredibly repetitive task and that repetitive motions can be very bad for you.
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With more and more people logging longer hours at a computer and putting a lot of strain on their hands and their wrists, it is common to worry about developing carpal tunnel and also to wonder what you can do to reduce the risk of this occurring when you are tied to a computer all day long.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
It’s important before anyone tries to self diagnose that they have carpal tunnel that they fully understand what it is, what causes it, and what risk factors can easily be avoided.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when you have a lot of pressure put on the median nerve of your hand. This nerve runs the length of your arm and goes through a small passage that is located in the wrist and known as the carpal tunnel.
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The median nerve is in charge of controlling feeling and movement in your thumb and three other fingers which mean that when it is compressed or damaged then the problem quickly becomes obvious and you can experience a lot of pain.
Problems that affect your carpal tunnel can actually cause it to narrow, and this will put pressure on your median nerve. Some of the most common risk factors for a narrowing carpal tunnel are:
- Anatomic factors
- Certain medical problems, such as diabetes and obesity
- Exposed to continued vibration
- Repetitive motions of the wrist such as typing
Understanding the Symptoms
Now that you know what carpal tunnel syndrome is, it’s important to understand the symptoms so that you know what you need to look for when you are faced with this medical problem. Generally speaking, people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome experience:
- Tingling in the hands
- Numb hands
- Forearm pain
- Thumb pain
- Sore wrists
- Dropping items
- Itching palms
- Burning hand pain
- Chronic chilly hands
- Finger pain
One of the first signs that you may have carpal tunnel syndrome is when your fingers get numb when you fall asleep during the night. This generally occurs at this time of the day because your fingers are relaxed. In the morning, people who have carpal tunnel syndrome often wake up with tingling hands, as well as numbness that can extend into the shoulder.
The Problem with Severe Cases
Carpal tunnel syndrome can vary in its severity, and this means that people who suffer from carpal tunnel need to get medical care right away so that their condition doesn’t worsen. When carpal tunnel is left untreated, it is not uncommon for the muscles in a person’s hand to shrink and for a person to have less grip than before.
People who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome will also experience more muscle cramping and pain in their hands. Due to irritation and pressure on the median nerve, it will slowly stop functioning the way that it should.
This will result in losing feeling in the fingers, increased clumsiness, and slower response time as nerve impulses slow down. Some people will experience permanent nerve or muscle damage due to their carpal tunnel syndrome, which is why it’s so important to see a doctor.
The Problem That Writers Face
The problem with carpal tunnel syndrome is that it is caused by repetitive motion, and writing, especially when typing on a computer, is generally incredibly repetitive. When typing on a computer, many people keep their wrists resting on a wrist rest, and this can increase pressure on the median nerve.
Rapid finger movements, the stress on the wrist, and the angle of the wrist can all contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome in writers.
Anyone who spends a lot of time using a keyboard will be putting their hands and wrists through repetitive motions, and this can easily cause damage to the median nerve. When writers experience any signs of discomfort, numbness, tingling, or burning pain, they need to take a break and see a doctor right away for care.
Some doctors believe that writing and typing themselves are not responsible for carpal tunnel syndrome, but that they will exacerbate problems that writers already have. These doctors think that typing itself doesn’t cause carpal tunnel syndrome, but that this continued motion will simply make the pain more apparent to sufferers.
Even though there are many patients and carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers who believe that their pain is caused and exacerbated by working on the computer, some doctors are engaged in a debate about whether or not typing is really as bad for your wrists as some people think. These professionals are constantly debating “can writing cause carpal tunnel?”
While working on the computer for long periods of time certainly isn’t good for the wrists and can put a lot of strain on the carpal tunnel, employees who deal with vibrating heavy machinery are often at a higher risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
For this reason, any employee who works with their hands on a regular basis needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and needs to take action right away if they are worried about their health.
The Concerns Over Using a Mouse
There have been some studies that show that even though the repetitive motion of typing is not good for your hands and your wrist, this motion is better for you than the motion of using a mouse. Since writers do not generally use a mouse for more than 20 hours a week, this means that they are less likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with a Brace
No matter if you believe that writing causes carpal tunnel syndrome or not, if you are a writer who writes novels, short stories, or any other write-ups, you need to make sure that you take steps to try to protect yourself and the health of your wrists. The best thing that you can do to ensure that your wrists are protected and that you have taken steps to decrease the likelihood of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is to wear a wrist brace when you work.
Wearing a wrist brace is a great way to help soothe the pain that you can experience if you already have carpal tunnel syndrome and can keep your wrist in a straight line instead of bending it and putting a lot of pressure and strain on your median nerve.
Give Yourself a Break
It’s also important to take breaks during long periods of writing so that you can stretch out and flex the wrists, which will help to relieve pressure on the median nerve and combat the pain and problem of carpal tunnel syndrome. Of course, flexing and stretching on their own are not enough to negate problems caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, but it can help keep the carpal tunnel open, flexible, and healthy.
It can be really easy to keep writing short stories and not want to get up from the computer when you are in the zone and on a roll, but writers need to make themselves stop writing on a regular basis to get up, stretch out the upper body, and check on how their wrists feel. This will allow them to stretch out the carpal tunnel and help prevent it from being damaged.
Using Yoga to Protect the Wrists
There are certain yoga positions that are also really great for carpal tunnel syndrome and will help to relieve the pain and pressure that writers can feel on their wrists. Yoga poses that focus on strengthening and stretching out the joints in the upper body, particularly in the wrists, are very helpful.
Prayer position is a great option to stretch out the wrists. This is a great choice for beginners as they can easily control how much pressure is placed on the wrists.
Another helpful yoga pose is the Cow Face Pose. Not only does this pose help to open up the shoulders and prevent them from becoming too tight when hunched over at a desk working, but practitioners can also press through their wrists and palms to stretch this part of the body, as well.
Invest in an Ergonomic Keyboard
Writers can also help to protect their wrists by investing in an ergonomic keyboard. These keyboards are designed specifically to reduce the pain and problems of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Ergonomic keyboards have a special design that puts the hands in a more natural and wider position which is much more comfortable and prevents excess strain on the hands and upper body. This is very unlike traditional keyboards that favor a much more straight-on approach.
Even writers who say that they don’t feel any strain using a regular keyboard need to make sure to invest in an ergonomic keyboard for long-term use. This is because using a regular keyboard can lead to a lot of physical and medical problems in the future, even when users don’t feel any pain at the time.
Making Healthy Life Changes
Nobody wants to go through the pain of dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome, which is why it’s so important to make healthy changes in your life to try to decrease the likelihood of developing this problem, especially if you are a writer. While many people only think about taking care of their hands, there are other ways that you can improve your overall health and enjoy the benefit of improved wrist health.
One of the first changes that writers should consider is to stop smoking cigarettes, as smoking will constrict blood vessel and slow down your blood. This can have a huge impact on the health and size of your carpal tunnel, causing symptoms of this syndrome to appear.
Another minor change that can have a huge impact on your health and the possibility of not developing carpal tunnel syndrome is improving your posture. Bad posture at the keyboard can lead to an unnatural position in the wrist, which can make carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms significantly worse.
Writers who spend a lot of time at the computer need to:
- Put their spine against the back of their chair
- Make sure to relax the shoulders
- Keep wrists straight and not bend them
- Never rest wrists on a hard desk
- Keep elbows close to the body
- Place feet flat on the floor
- Keep the monitor close to eye-level
Another way to improve your overall health and decrease the possibility of developing carpal tunnel syndrome if you are a writer is to have regular hand massages. It’s normal for writers to have swelling in their hands and their wrists and to develop a lot of tension in these areas, both of which can contribute to major problems in the future. Self- massage, as well as visiting a professional, are both great ways to reduce inflammation in the hand and provide some relief to the wrist.
Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are a few treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome, depending on the severity of the pain that the patient is experiencing. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Wearing a wrist splint during the night
- Using over the counter anti-inflammatories
As you can see, there are two trains of thought when it comes to concerns about writers developing carpal tunnel syndrome. On one hand, any repetitive motions of the wrists and hands are not good and can cause fatigue, pain, worsening carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, and possibly even carpal tunnel syndrome.
While this is a very common thought, there are other doctors and scientists who assure writers that simply type for hours a day is not enough to cause this damage to the wrist and is nothing to be concerned about.
The best course of action for any writer who has concerns about their wrist health and safety is to visit their doctor on a regular basis. This will allow them to get the care that they need if they are showing signs of carpal tunnel syndrome and to also talk about ergonomic options to reduce the pain and strain placed on the wrist when they are constantly writing.
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