Is Working From Home Causing Carpal Tunnel?

Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of employees have adjusted to working from the comfort of their homes. Although it has been nearly two years since the beginning of the pandemic and millions are now vaccinated against COVID-19, remote working has remained commonplace for many Americans.

Despite the extensive benefits of working from home, there have been some unanticipated negative consequences of remote working, including orthopaedic issues, like carpal tunnel syndrome.


What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow tunnel in the wrist that cushions and protects the median nerve and the tendons that pass through it. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve is compressed; it affects three to six percent of the general population.

Since the median nerve provides sensation to your fingers, pressure on the carpal tunnel can lead to pain and stiffness in your hand. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may also include:
  • Gradual numbness
  • Burning or tingling sensation
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Weak grip strength
Many people sleep with their wrists curled, so these symptoms may intensify at night.


How Working From Home Causes Carpal Tunnel

Although genetic factors, injuries and other underlying health conditions can increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress is one of the most common reasons why the condition forms. Tension on the nerve occurs when the wrist is in a cramped position for a prolonged period of time, like while typing on a keyboard.

Although you may not spend more time working at a keyboard at home than you would in the office, remote workers are more likely to work from the couch, a bed, or a table not intended for work—and this can result in poorer posture and positioning that stresses the hand and wrist.

In office jobs, companies are required to provide a healthy workplace for their employees. Providing a safe workplace means furnishing the office with ergonomic furniture and accessories. Ergonomic equipment is designed to promote efficiency and comfort in the workplace in order to minimize any musculoskeletal pain.

To prevent the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:
  • Ensure that your home workstation is ergonomically practical
  • Practice correct posture
  • Take breaks at least once an hour
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle to reduce inflammation in your body
If you do find yourself suffering from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, you can treat the condition through a number of non-surgical treatments, including:
  • Physical therapy
  • Wearing a wrist brace at night
  • Taking breaks to ice your wrist
  • Spending time stretching your fingers throughout the workday
  • Taking NSAID pain medications like Ibuprofen or Advil
  • Cortisone injections

Contact The Steadman Clinic

At The Steadman Clinic, our goal is to deliver the highest standard of orthopaedic care to each of our patients. If you are experiencing hand or wrist pain and suspect that it may be carpal tunnel syndrome, contact one of the hand and wrist specialists at The Steadman Clinic today to develop a personalized care plan to relieve your symptoms.