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Computer - Use 101

Avoiding harmful habits to prevent carpal tunnel

If you are reading this article, most likely you are sitting in front of a computer screen-possibly at the office browsing on a lunch hour or at home enjoying a little free time. For many of us, it's part of our normal day. But, have you ever considered that how you use the computer could be affecting your health? Unless you are careful, you could be developing harmful habits that could be doing more damage than you think.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a term used for nerve, muscle and tendon injuries that occur from repeated physical movements. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one diagnosis thought to be related to RSI. But there are some misunderstandings regarding who develops the syndrome and how it happens. So, in honor of International RSI Awareness Day (February 28), St. Luke's Hospital has provided some common-sense information for you to take back to the office.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and who can develop it?

Look at your arm. You have a passageway that leads from your forearm to your wrist called the carpal tunnel. This passageway contains the nerve that creates sensation or feeling through your arm to your fingers and thumb. When the tissues around this nerve become swollen and press against the nerve, the signals sent from the nerve through the carpal tunnel slows down. The result? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-pain, numbness and tingling through the hand, wrist and fingers. If you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor.

Although any adult can develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, there are a few factors that predispose you to the problem. For example, older individuals, women, and/or those individuals who have underlying medical conditions, such as arthritis, all have a greater risk. In addition, carpal tunnel is highly linked to obesity and the symptoms are found to be worse in those who smoke.

How Can I Prevent It?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other forms of RSIs can be prevented. Timothy Lang, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital, provides the following tips for those working with a computer:
For more information on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or other RSIs, consult your doctor.