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By Corbin H. Crable
For those living with carpal tunnel syndrome, there are simple and affordable ways to alleviate the pain.
A symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is persistent and severe pain in the hands and wrists. This pain mainly stems from incorrect positioning of the wrists while sitting at a computer keyboard.
When the wrists are incorrectly positioned at a keyboard, pressure is put on a nerve found in a "tunnel" in the wrists. In that tunnel, as the tendons grow and expand, it can cause inflammation. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome also include a burning sensation in the fingers, or even no feeling at all.
Dr. Guy Smith, medical director of Lafene Health Center, said those who spend a majority of their day sitting at typewriters or computers are most likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, Smith said, those who use vibratory equipment in their daily jobs, such as jackhammers or other tools associated with construction work, are just as susceptible to the disease.
"The cause of the disease is largely occupational," said Smith, who sees students on a weekly basis to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.
Beth Unger, vice provost and professor of computing and information sciences, agreed with Smith. "If you use a computer for more than six to seven hours per day, you need to take proper precautions," Unger said. Smith said those precautions are both inexpensive and effective. "If you can find the associating factor (of the disease), that's the cheapest treatment," she said. Smith added that anti-inflammatory creams can take the pressure off the nerve as well.
There are wrist splints such as the Carpal Mate and the Smart Glove that keep the wrist in a neutral position. For more serious cases Cold Laser Therapy is a very popular treatment for inflamation caused by carpal tunnel syndrom (CTS).
The Department of Computing and Information Sciences is also taking the necessary steps to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Unger ensures all computers in her department are equipped with wrist rests, and said most computers now come with warning labels when they are sold to consumers. These labels warn the consumer about the dangers of incorrect positioning of the wrists while sitting at the keyboard for extended periods of time.
Smith said he sees the new warning labels as a way to educate the public about carpal tunnel syndrome.
These precautions and tips add up to making students more aware of carpal tunnel syndrome, and one of Unger's priorities is to try to protect students from its dangers.
"We educate (students) and try to make available anything to them that would keep them from being susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome," Unger said.
Adjust the height of the chair so your feet are firmly on the floor but not so low that your weight is not evenly distributed over the full seat surface.
Keep your body in a relaxed, yet upright, position. The backrest of your chair should support the inward curve of your lower back.
To prevent having to reach to the front or side, position the keyboard and pointing device (ex: mouse, trackball, etc.) directly in front and close to you. Press the keys gently; keep your shoulders, arms, hands and fingers relaxed.
Position whatever you are looking at most of the time (either the monitor or paper material) directly in front of you so that you do not have to turn your head to the side while you are typing. Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at, or slightly below, eye level. Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen.
Smart Glove with Thumb Support: If you're looking for an affordable solution for carpal tunnel pain, we've found that the Smart Glove with Wrist Support is an outstanding wrist support that enables you to keep active while working on a computer. Designed specifically for keyboard, laptop, and mouse use, the Smart Glove with Thumb Support features a thumb extension that provides your thumb with soothing comfort and pain relief. The pad filled with ergoBeads cushions and protects the underside of your wrist and the pisiform bone. This bead-filled pad helps raise your wrist to an ideal ergonomic position. Soft cotton Lycra ensures cool comfort throughout the day. A removable splint provides flexible support to the wrist. The Smart Glove with Thumb Support fits both hands and is available in Small, Medium and Large sizes.
Ergobeads KeyBoard Wrist Rest: The ergobeads KeyBoard Wrist Rest is designed to ease wrist pain when using a computer caused by: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis, Tendonitis, Repetitive Motion Injury and many more. The keyboard wrist rest is filled with ergoBeads that cushions and protects the underside of your wrist and the pisiform bone. This bead-filled ergobeads KeyBoard Wrist Rest rest helps raise your wrist to an ideal pain-free position. The ergobeads KeyBoard Wrist Rest drapes over the desk or keyboard edge to provide comfort and protection to wrists. Keeps wrists in a neutral, ergonomically correct position to relieve structural stresses. Rugged spandex cover is filled with non-toxic, hypo-allergenic flax which can be microwaved or frozen for heat/cold option. The ergoBeads Softfabric KeyBoard Wrist Rest is like no other keyboard wrist rest. Ergonomically designed by an orthopedic surgeon, the ergoBeads Softfabric Wrist Rest provides optimal comfort to your wrists and hands. Made of cotton Lycra, they are soft and cool against your skin. The smooth plastic bead filling gently supports and massages your hands and wrists. The ergobeads KeyBoard Wrist Rest is squeezable and fun and comes in a wide variety of colors!
This article was supplied by http://www.ctsplace.com.
Copyright 1998, Student Publications Inc. All rights reserved. This document may be distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice. However, it cannot be reprinted without the express written permission of Student Publications Inc., Kansas State University.
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