Hand, Finger & Wrist

 

Certain repetitive hand activities may put you at higher risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). By learning how to modify the way you use your hands, you may be able to reduce the risk. Keep the tips listed below in mind at home and on the job. And, be sure to follow your company's hand and wrist safety policies and procedures.

Keep your wrist in a neutral (straight) position when exercising.

Keep Your Wrist in Neutral

Avoid using your wrist in a bent (flexed), extended, or twisted position for long periods of time. Instead, try to maintain a neutral (straight) wrist position.

Watch Your Grip

Gripping, grasping, or lifting with the thumb and index finger can put stress on your wrist. When practical, use the whole hand and all the fingers to grasp an object.

Minimize Repetition

Even simple, light tasks may eventually cause injury. If possible, avoid repetitive movements or holding an object in the same way for extended periods of time.

Rest Your Hands

Periodically give your hands a break by letting them rest briefly. Or you may be able to alternate easy and hard tasks, switch hands, or rotate work activities.

Reduce Speed and Force

Reducing the speed with which you do a forceful, repetitive movement gives your wrist time to recover from the effort. Using power tools helps reduce the force.

Conditioning Exercises

Certain exercises strengthen the hand and arm muscles. They may help by reducing the need to compensate for these weak muscles with a poor wrist position.

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Your treatment may be nonsurgical or surgical, depending on how severe your condition is. Your doctor can talk to you about the best option for you.

Nonsurgical Treatment

If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may have you rest the finger or thumb and take oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin. If this does not reduce the swelling, your doctor may give you injections of an anti-inflammatory, such as cortisone, in the base of the finger or thumb.

The tendon sheath is opened to release the tendon. Once the tendon can move freely again, the finger can bend and straighten more normally.

Surgery

If other treatments don't relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. The sheath that surrounds the tendon is opened to enlarge the space and release the swollen tendon. This allows the finger to bend and straighten normally again. Surgery takes about 20 minutes, and can often be done under a local anesthetic. You can usually go home the same day. Your hand will be wrapped in a soft bandage, and you may wear a plaster splint for a short time to keep the finger stable and more comfortable. The stitches will be removed in about 2 weeks. Your doctor will discuss the risks and possible complications of surgery with you.