(Editor's note: This is a guest post from Holly McCarthy.)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or repetitive motion syndrome, was once a malady for only a few. Before the advent of computers, carpal tunnel affected mostly factory workers and warehouse employees who did the same physical tasks over and over. Now that everyone is on their computers for so many hours each day, however, the number of cases of carpal tunnel doctors are seeing is skyrocketing. This is especially disconcerting for writers who rely on their ability to type to make a living.
But, carpal tunnel is not necessarily an inevitability if you follow a few simple guidelines for keeping your hands and wrists out of harm's way as you type.
- Position. Where your wrists fall on your keyboard is of the utmost importance. Your wrists should not fall below your hands as you type. Keep wrists even with your hands to avoid strain.
- Equipment. If you need wrist supports for your keyboard and mouse, get them. Choose a desk designed for computer users as it will be a bit lower than a traditional writing desk.
- Location. Use an office desk chair on which you are comfortable. Fight the urge to type "where you are comfortable" as these locations can put you at risk as you type. Do not type on your sofa or bed in particular.
- Guards. If you have been prescribed wrist guards or braces by your physician, use them. Many people take issue with the aesthetics of their guards but they are necessary for providing support and avoiding future injury.
- Common sense. In the end, you will know when you are out of position for healthy typing. We all know the proper form we should be using every time we sit at our keyboards and many of us ignore the suggested guidelines.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not some small, annoying condition. It can become a major, painful problem that ultimately requires surgical intervention to repair. If this is required, you can imagine the impact it can have on one's livelihood. Carpal Tunnel can cause permanent devastation that can cause lifelong problems.
The best cure, as with many conditions, is prevention. While some people are just predisposed to the condition, most of us just need to be more cognizant about our surroundings and work stations to stay healthy and productive.