Myth 1: Technology is to blame
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist gets pinched. Repetitive motions like typing or texting don’t pinch the median nerve. So, simply working on a computer all day won’t necessarily cause carpal tunnel. Even playing sports or playing the piano won’t necessarily lead to carpal tunnel. That said, repetitive motions like texting or typing on a computer can make symptoms more noticeable if someone already has carpal tunnel syndrome.
Myth 2: Carpal tunnel never goes away
Mild cases of carpal tunnel may go away with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Even in moderate to severe cases, treatments like cortisone injections may help pain and inflammation go away. About half of all people who have the condition require carpal tunnel release surgery for full pain relief. Either way, carpal tunnel syndrome does not have to be a permanent condition, although avoiding movements that exacerbate the syndrome is recommended.
Myth 3: You can’t prevent carpal tunnel
While there is no one activity or factor that causes carpal tunnel, there are various risk factors that can contribute. People who have arthritis in the wrist, retain fluid during pregnancy, or are obese have a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, setting up an ergonomic work station and avoiding repetitive motions can help stave off carpal tunnel symptoms. A healthcare provider may also recommend hot and cold compresses, wearing a splint at night, or avoiding sleeping on the wrists.
A myth that may surprise you
Although the myth about typing persists, there is one factor of office work that can impact carpal tunnel risks: using a computer mouse. One study found that people who used a mouse for more than 20 hours per week had an increase in carpal tunnel symptoms. However, many people who experience wrist pain after sitting at a computer all day actually suffer from tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons. This condition can be treated effectively with anti-inflammatory medications, occupational therapy, or modification of the work station. For more information about carpal tunnel syndrome, speak with a healthcare provider.