5 Tips for Preventing Back-to-School Carpal Tunnel

a pair of bare arms stretching the right wrist with the palm facing out

A List of Best Practices for Carpal Tunnel Prevention and When to See an Orthopedic Doctor

School is back in session, which means students of all ages will be attending class again – either remotely or in-person – and diligently working to be at the top of their class. Of course, it goes without saying that they will be mentally applying themselves to the various subjects they study, but so often the physical aspect of schoolwork gets overlooked.

What are we referring to? The countless hours of writing, note taking, and typing that comes with being a student. For a full-time student, the learning process can put a lot of duress on the wrists and hands, and that may potentially lead to carpal tunnel for those who aren’t careful.


What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a small passageway inside the wrist and hand area that is surrounded by bones and ligaments. When the median nerve is compressed, this can result in symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hands and/or the wrists.

Those suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome may notice that their fingers will start to tingle. They may also experience weakness with their grip, which makes them susceptible to dropping objects or not being able to hold objects securely, such as a pencil or stylus.

In most cases, wrist and hand pain relief can be achieved by shaking the hands and ceasing the activity that is causing the compression of the median nerve. For full-time students, this is more often caused by the process of writing as opposed to typing.


Tips for Carpal Tunnel Prevention

Fortunately, carpal tunnel and its symptoms can be prevented by behavioral changes and implementing some best practices when note taking and typing. Refer to the following carpal tunnel prevention tips to ensure that your studies don’t get interrupted by pain, tingling, and weakness.

#1 – Do Hand and Wrist Stretches

The same way that athletes stretch before they engage in physical activity, students should also be stretching their hands and wrists before a session of diligent note taking. Be sure to stretch your hand both upward and downward to get everything feeling nice and loose. You should feel the result of the stretches all the way through your forearm. A variety of hand and wrist stretches can be found online by searching “carpal tunnel prevention stretches.” Stretching is also a good form of pain management.

#2 – Relax Your Grip

Nothing activates the symptoms of carpal tunnel quicker than a grip that’s too tight on a pen or pencil. Try relaxing your grip and switching over to a utensil that features a padded grip and writes more easily, such as a gel ink pen.

#3 – Take Breaks When You Can

Trying to push through the pain and tingling associated with carpal tunnel can be difficult. Make sure to take breaks frequently, but especially when the pain and tingling become too much. This is your body telling you that you need to stop the activity that you’re doing. Try relaxing your hands and shaking them to get hand pain relief.

#4 – Be Conscious of Your Wrists and Your Posture

By keeping your wrist in a neutral position, you are effectively taking the pressure off the median nerve. Be conscious of this when writing or typing. If you notice that your wrist is bent upward or downward, you need to adjust your technique. Additionally, you should also be conscious of your posture and how that may affect the way that your arm is positioned. Try to sit with your shoulders rolled back instead of rolled forward, and keep your spine aligned upward to take the pressure off your lower back.

#5 – Stay Warm

Working in the cold is not going to do your joints any favors. Any pain or stiffness that you were experiencing before will be multiplied in cold weather. If you happen to be working in a classroom that is especially cold, make sure that you have a sweater, hoodie, or coat so that you can stay warm. This is one of the most overlooked carpal tunnel prevention techniques because people so rarely connect that the temperature of the room may be affecting their wrists and hands.


When to Seek Advanced Orthopedics for Carpal Tunnel

According to medical statistics, young children typically don’t suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome; however, American Family Physician (aafp.org) reports that approximately 3 to 6 percent of adults do suffer from it.

Carpal tunnel prevention is the best way to ensure that you never develop this problem in the first place. For those who are past that point and can’t find wrist or hand pain relief, it may be time to seek medical attention through advanced orthopedics.

Mid-America Orthopedics has decades of combined experience working with patients who are suffering from the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. We can even perform arthroscopic surgery in the event that your carpal tunnel syndrome case is severe. However, most of the time we can resolve the issue without surgical intervention.

Set up an appointment with the experienced team at Mid-America Orthopedics Wichita today. You can email us directly using the contact form on our website or call us at (316) 630-9300.