What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is an upper limb injury caused by compression of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of your hand. The median nerve is responsible for the control of sensation to the palm side of the thumb and your fingers (excluding your little finger). The median nerve also controls the movement of your thumb and fingers.
The carpal tunnel is a small tunnel of ligament and bones at the base of your hand. Compression of the median nerve can be caused by swelling of the irritated tendons, which in turn causes pain, weakness, and/or numbness in your hand and wrist.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is often caused by a combination of things that all lead to pressure over the median nerve. In some instances, CTS is a result of congenital predisposition, that being the carpal tunnel is just smaller in diameter in some people. Other factors may include sustaining an injury to your wrist that results in swelling around the base of the wrist, use of vibrating hand tools or even fluid retention. However, the most common cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is as a result of a repetitive strain injuries relating to computer use.
Heavy use of a computer mouse or keyboard, combined with awkward working postures of the hands and wrist, can result in a repetitive strain injury to the wrist/s. This in turn causes swelling around the wrist which leads to increased pressure over the median nerve, resulting in the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated, and in most instances can be resolved. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments available for it. Initial treatment should generally involve resting the affected hand/s for at least a few weeks, in order to help the swelling reduce. During this time you should also avoid any activities that may aggravate your symptoms. If you consult with a Physiotherapist, you may find they recommend immobilizing your wrist by placing it in a splint. This will help to avoid further aggravation from moving or bending your wrist. Applying ice packs can also help reduce your swelling.
What Ergonomic Equipment is Recommended for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
It is important to consider your working environment when looking at treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Once you have consulted with your GP and a Physiotherapist, and your symptoms are beginning to improve, you may want to try to re-introduce using a computer mouse and keyboard again. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you use your mouse and keyboard for.
If you find your computer keyboard and mouse aggravates your symptoms, you may need to consider changing them to an ergonomic one. Ergonomic keyboard and mice, place your wrist and forearms in a more natural posture that helps to reduce the pressure over the median nerve and reduce the amount of muscle activity required to use your mouse and keyboard. The important aspect here is to try to get your hands into a more neutral working posture, as this will help to reduce any aggravation of your symptoms.
This particular mouse will place your hand in an almost 90 degree working posture which is more comfortable. By changing to this mouse, you feel the difference immediately.
An ergonomic keyboard such as the Kinesis Freestyle 2 will also help to improve your symptoms and reduce the risk of aggravation. Due to the split design of this keyboard, you can position the keyboard in a way that allows your wrists to not deviate. Deviation causes added pressure over the median nerve and is often one of the contributing factors for repetitive strain injuries, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
By splitting the keyboard in half and being able to position the keys on a slight angle, you will be able to ensure your wrist are again in a neutral posture and be able to work more comfortably.