July 15, 2008 Is your long, daily commute causing you pain? According to experts, hours in the car can create more than stress—it can actually cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
“Repeated, prolonged gripping of anything—whether it’s a steering wheel or a tool—can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome,” says Jennifer Valle, occupational therapist and certified hand therapist, Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. “There are activities you can do and modifications you can make to help alleviate the risk of developing carpal tunnel.”
Here are some tips:
- Switch the hand you drive with—periodically using your left, then your right.
- Keep your hand in line with your elbow and your wrist straight.
“If you imagine the steering wheel as a clock, the best position to put your wrist in would actually be at three o’clock and nine o’clock.”
Experts say most people who have already developed carpal tunnel symptoms can reverse them by making simple changes.
“A lot of times patients will come back and say ‘I’m having fewer symptoms,’ and that the activity modifications are working,” adds Valle.
Something else drivers do which increases their risk of carpal tunnel—they talk on their cell phone while driving—holding it with their wrist bent. Experts say if you’re going to use your cell phone in the car get an earpiece or headset.
But what about wrist splints… do they help while driving? They do. You can find them at most pharmacies and they will force you to keep your wrist in a straight position.
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