|H. Franklin Bunn, M.D. Harvard Medical School Professor|
While many people use the term ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’ to describe any sort of pain in their fingers, hands, wrists, arms, back, or shoulders, it’s actually a specific type of injury, often sustained while typing. Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS has very specific symptoms, features, and a single, non-surgical cure. (To learn more about other typing injuries and their solutions, click here.)
“Bound by bones and ligaments, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway — about as big around as your thumb — located on the palm side of your wrist. This tunnel protects a main nerve to your hand and nine tendons that bend your fingers. Pressure placed on the nerve produces the numbness, pain and, eventually, hand weakness that characterize carpal tunnel syndrome.”
Source: Mayo Clinic
Moving your fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms as a unit is vital to healthy typing. If you move without this alignment, you can begin to hurt yourself. It may be difficult to imagine something that seems so simple causing so much trouble, but simply lowering your wrist while typing is enough to irritate the carpal tunnel and cause pain. Here’s why:
When you lower your wrist, you break the connection between your hand and forearm. This causes the weight of your arm to fall into your wrist, irritating your carpal tunnel and causing pain.
(Photo #1 Broken Wrist — Wrist Too Low — Screenshot From Healthy Typing Video)
Here is a good test:
If this condition doesn’t seem any more serious than just a little occasional pain or numbness, think again. Untreated, it will get worse. Carpal tunnel syndrome does more than just affect your typing. Many basic daily tasks such as picking up a cup, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, driving, and even opening a door can become difficult or impossible.
Some people make the mistake of overcompensating for a dropped wrist and lift it too high (see photo #3). Don’t do it! Not only does this break the alignment of your forearm, hand, and fingers, but it also causes fatigue and makes it difficult to type.
(Photo #2: Broken Wrist — Wrist Too High — Screenshot From Healthy Typing Video)
Wrist rests are one of the most commonly used remedies for a dropped wrist. Unfortunately, even if they raise your wrist to a height that appears correct, they can harm you, and here’s why. By resting your wrist on the wrist rest even a little, you’re still breaking your wrist. The weight of your arm will fall into the wrist and you will still risk getting carpal tunnel syndrome!
Sadly, even people who didn’t have a typing injury like CTS before using a wrist rest have found they developed carpal tunnel syndrome afterward.
(Insert Rick Herrick testimonial)
Many other products, services, and methods are often recommended as a treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome including painkillers, surgery, finger/hand isolation, and taking a break. These at best can relieve pain and numbness in your fingers, hands, and arms for a while, but the relief is only temporary. The problem will come back when you start typing again.
Other treatments such as ergonomic keyboards, wrist rests, splints, and splints can at first make you feel better by preventing one type of unhealthy motion. Over time, however, they will actually hurt you more because they physically force you to use other incorrect typing motions. And, the last thing you need is more pain or another injury.
The only way to eliminate carpal tunnel syndrome and the pain associated with it is to put your wrist at the height that allows your hand and forearm to move together, as nature intended, without special devices, gadgets, or other external solution.
(Wrist at the Correct Height for Healthy Typing — Screenshot From Healthy Typing Video)
Of course, this is just one of the steps necessary for preventing and treating typing injuries, pain, and discomfort. To find out more, and learn how to prevent, treat, and cure carpal tunnel syndrome, watch the complete Healthy Typing Video.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this website, while endorsed by many doctors, were not developed based on formal medical training. This video is not a critique of standard computer keyboards and handheld devices, but rather, a discussion of ways to use them more efficiently.