Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Yoga

Anyone who has met me can tell you that I’m a bit of a hypochondriac.  This is something that I have accepted as an occupational hazard.  After reading thousands of medical reports, it’s only natural to be very aware of symptoms.  Needless to say, when I started experiencing tingling in my hand, I wasted no time scheduling a rush appointment. 

At first, my doctor took my symptoms seriously.  Then she asked about my occupation.  That was all she needed to hear.  It was repetitive stress syndrome.   I’ve seen many coworkers succumb to carpal tunnel syndrome, so this was not a shock to me.  What did shock me was her next comment.  She complained that since the implementation of their EHR, she has been experiencing the same thing.  So, I guess doctors are feeling the pain of medical transcriptionists after all! HAHA!  

She recommended that I start doing stretching exercises to help prevent further damage.  She gave me a print out titled “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Strain Injury, and Yoga” by Ellen Serber.  I was a little skeptical because this is an older article.  Then I figured if a doctor is recommending it, who am I to argue? Three months later, I am able to type through an 8 hour work day pain free! 

Below are some helpful tips from the article for carpal tunnel prevention.  Most of these tips are good rules to practice to prevent overall fatigue as well: 

1. The most important thing to do is to get up from your desk and move around every half hour. Take your eyes off your computer screen and gaze into the far distance. Drink a glass of water. Some computers have alarm clock functions that can be set to remind you to get up. If you don’t have such a function there are shareware programs you can download from http://www.shareware.com that can be set to remind you to get up.                                                                   

2.  It is as important to take care of the “tool”, your body, as the task. Sit up, extending the spine, while working. Keep the shoulders down and rolled back. Maintain awareness of your body as you work.

3.  Do not eat your lunch at your desk. During your lunch break do an activity that involves physical exercise: walk, go to the gym, shop. 

4. Include full body stretches in your daily activity, emphasizing the upper body. Stretch before you go to sleep at night.

5. Observe your sleeping position. Try to avoid curling up your wrists or putting your arm under your head when sleeping on your side. Make sure your pillow is the right height for sleeping. The neck should be supported, with the head resting comfortably.  The neck should be in line with the rest of the spine, not propped up above it with extra pillows.

6. Check that your work station is set up correctly. Monitor screen should be eye level or slightly below eye level. Wrists should be level when using the keyboard. New keyboards and mouse designs can help prevent hand and wrist strain. Feet should be placed on the floor. Check that your ventilation system is operating properly, or windows can be opened for fresh air. Dry air can cause your eyes to get too dry, especially if you wear contact lenses.

7. Develop an exercise program that includes strengthening the upper body, so that you can sit comfortably in an upright position without slouching. The program must also include exercises for flexibility, to stretch out the contracted muscles of the wrist, arm, shoulder, neck and upper back.

8. If pain persists, go to a competent health-care professional who is experienced in treating carpal tunnel and repetitive strain disorders.

The article also contains general information regarding carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress syndrome, and  helpful yoga-based exercises that can be performed throughout the day.  For those who are interested in reading more, the full article (along with a link to illustrations) can be found  here

The checklist above was  taken from the article titled Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Strain Injury, and Yoga written by  Ellen Serber found at http://www.mydailyyoga.com/yoga/yoga_and_carpal_tunnel-rsi.html

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