Various medical conditions may make your hands go numb, or even cause long-term numbness in the hands. The common thread among all of them is that they are characterized by compression, damage, or irritation of the peripheral nerves. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) may be the most widespread of all disorders that fit the following description:
“Hand numbness is usually caused by damage, irritation or compression of one of the nerves or a branch of one of the nerves in your arm and wrist.” – Mayo Clinic Staff
Per the Virtual Medical Center, CTS is a relatively common disorder that affects nearly three percent of the population at some point. CTS is more common in women than in men, with an average age of 40 to 50 years.
Causes and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CTS is caused by the compression of the median nerve within the wrist. In the wrist, the median nerve is encompassed by the carpal tunnel, a narrow structure that sits below the wrist at the hand’s heel. Besides the median nerve, the carpal tunnel also consists of various tendons.
The median nerve is quite long, extending from about six inches below the surface of the middle of the shoulder, all the way down through the wrist and fingers. The most common CTS symptoms include numbness, weakness, and pain in of the thumb, index, and middle fingers, as well as half of the ring finger. Pain is also usually felt in areas of the wrist.
The link between why your hands go numb and office work
There is no doubt that one’s work environment can contribute to the onset of CTS. It is very common for people to work on computers nowadays, and the bending of the wrist – say, when typing on a keyboard – is a leading cause of why your hands go numb.
But it isn’t only how you type, as you will quickly find out. Other lifestyle factors also contribute to the development (and prevention!) of CTS and any arising hand numbness symptoms.
Without further ado, here are some ways to prevent or fix hand numbness:
Wear a splint
If you are currently experiencing troublesome symptoms, it may be best to wear a wrist splint for a time. A brace is helpful because it prevents the abnormal bending or contorting of the wrist. A splint is particularly helpful when sleeping or typing. Occasionally remove the splint to check your symptoms and to clean your hands and wrist.
Check your chair’s height
If your office chair is too high or low, you will find that your wrist must bend to carry out routine tasks. While you’re at it, consider the comfort of your chair. Do you need to replace it, or will adding a seat cushion or some other accessory make things easier? The support of your chair directly affects not only your posture but your attitude towards work.
Exercise your wrists
Simple exercises and stretching can go a long way in reducing, preventing, or even eliminating when your hands go numb. Here is a quick and simple one that you can do at work. While seated, place your hands, palm up, underneath a desk or table. Press upwards and against the bottom and hold for five to 10 seconds. Another easy and quick way is to get a stress or tennis ball and squeeze it for five to 10 seconds.
All of us know that sitting up straight is necessary for healthy posture. However, leaning either too far back to too far forward can compress – you guessed it – the median nerve. When this happens, your hands go numb. Make sure to sit with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
Take mini breaks
Get away from your computer. Seriously. Many office jobs require repetitive motions that will eventually tire out your arms, back, hands shoulders, and wrist. Also, it is highly likely that the reduction of blood flow from remaining seated contributes to hand numbness.
Apply a cold compress
Or ice, whatever. Ice and cold compresses are cheap, effective pain relievers. If you prefer, soak your wrist in an ice bucket for five to 10 minutes. Afterward, put your wrist splint back on (you remembered to get one, didn’t you? 🙂