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Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Tips for Over-50s

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition a lot of people in the United States and the United Kingdom get, especially if they’re over 50. It makes you feel numbness, a tingling sensation, and weakness mainly in your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Sometimes it can affect your ring finger too, but it usually doesn’t bother your little finger. 

When the median nerve, which extends into your hand, gets compressed within a narrow area known as the carpal tunnel on the palm side of your wrist, discomfort or symptoms occur. This particular area consists of both bones and ligaments.

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 I first experienced carpal tunnel when I had a tingling sensation in my hand. It would only occur at night. After visiting my doctor about this issue, he told me it was early symptoms of carpal tunnel. 

Risk Insights

It’s important to know what can make you more likely to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), especially for older people or those with health issues like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. Jobs that have you using a computer a lot or doing the same motions over and over can raise your chances of getting CTS. Even everyday tasks that put a lot of strain on your wrist can play a part.

But fear not! There’s hope for significant improvement and even complete recovery with the right approach to management and prevention. Here are some simple, conversational tips to keep those wrists happy and healthy:

Embrace Conservative Treatment First

Try easier fixes before surgery for wrist pain. See a therapist for help and change how you use your keyboard to keep your wrist straight. If your wrist hurts a little or a bit more, wearing splints at night might help ease the nerve pressure.

Keyboard Comfort

I now use a Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard.  These keyboards are designed with comfort and ergonomics at the forefront, aiming to reduce strain and improve typing posture. Typically, these keyboards come with a split layout. This isn’t just for show; it helps keep your hands in a more natural position, reducing the risk of strain. It’s like they’ve taken the usual, cramped keyboard layout and said, “Let’s give those keys some personal space, folks.”

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Wrist Spa

They often feature a cushioned palm rest, too. This isn’t just any old piece of foam; it’s like a luxury mattress for your wrists. It supports and comforts them, ensuring that long hours of typing don’t turn into a wrist-wrestling match.

And let’s not forget about the keys themselves. They’re often sculpted or have a slight concave design, ensuring that your fingers find their home without having to look. It’s like each key is whispering, “This way, buddy,” to your fingertips.

Tilt Perfection

Some models come with adjustable tilts and lifts, allowing you to customize the angle of the keyboard. This isn’t just about making the keyboard look cool on your desk (though it does help); it’s about finding the sweet spot that keeps your wrists at their happiest.

Tech Whisperer

Connectivity is a breeze, too, with options for Bluetooth or a USB dongle, making it easy to pair with just about any setup. It’s like the keyboard is saying, “I don’t care who you are or what device you have, we’re going to be friends.

Ergo buddy

In summary, if keyboards had personalities, the Logi Ergo series would be your wise, health-conscious friend who’s always looking out for your well-being, ensuring you’re comfortable, supported, and strain-free, no matter how intense your typing sessions get. Just remember, while it can make a big difference in comfort and ergonomics, finding the right typing posture and taking regular breaks is like pairing fine wine with cheese—essential for the best experience.

The Ergonomic Mouse

In addition to the keyboard, I decided to get a mouse that is geared towards a better position of the wrist to avoid and/or prevent carpal tunnel. My favorite is the Logitech Lift Vertical Ergonomic Mouse.

Handshake mouse

This nifty little gadget is designed to make your marathon computer sessions feel like a breeze, or at least a lot less breezy on your wrist. Picture this: instead of your usual mouse stance, where your hand lies flat, the Lift sort of tilts your hand to a more natural, handshake position. It’s like it’s saying, “Pleased to meet you, let’s get to work,” but in the most comfortable way possible.

Strain Reduction

The whole idea is to reduce wrist strain and possibly fend off the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s especially cozy for folks with smaller to medium-sized hands, though if your hands are on the larger side, you might find it a bit like trying to shake hands with a child’s toy—doable, but a tad awkward.

The Lift can connect with Bluetooth or a USB receiver, giving you options whether you switch between devices or like a tidy desk. The battery life is amazing, lasting up to 2 years, like the Energizer bunny that just keeps running. Think about all the things you could do in those 2 years without ever having to change your mouse battery.

You could learn a new language, write a novel, or deep dive into the world of diet and health, emerging as a guru. Or, you know, just enjoy not having to change batteries.

wrist brace

Wrist Brace

I sometimes wear a wrist brace at night, just like my doctor recommended. It’s really helped cut down on the tingling I was feeling. I got mine from CVS.

Based on my research the MUELLER Sports Medicine Adjustable Night Support Wrist Brace is a great product. It’s similar to the one I purchased from CVS.  Wrist brace comes in small, medium and large and right, left or both right and left.  

Choose the Right Brace

First off, make sure you’ve got the right kind of brace. You’re looking for a wrist splint that keeps your wrist in a neutral, slightly extended position. It’s like Goldilocks’ porridge: not too bent, not too straight, but just right.

Slide It On

Open the straps and slide your hand into the brace, making sure your thumb is in the thumb hole. Your hand should sit comfortably in the brace with the metal splint resting along the underside of your wrist and forearm. Think of it as sliding your hand into a cozy, supportive handshake.

Snug, Not Tight

Fasten the straps starting from the one closest to your wrist, then working your way up. The fit should be snug but not tight. You’re going for supportive, not a tourniquet. You should be able to slide a finger under the strap. If your fingertips turn blue or you start feeling like your hand’s being strangled, it’s too tight.

Check Your Hand Position

Your wrist should be in a neutral or slightly extended position. This means your hand should be in line with your arm, not bent down or cocked up too high. The idea is to give the median nerve the space it needs without any pressure.

Flex & Flow

Besides those tips, doing special exercises for your hands and wrists can help make them more flexible and strong, which can ease Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) symptoms. Physical therapists usually suggest these exercises because they help the median nerve and the tissues around it, improving blood flow and how well the nerve works.

Also, paying attention to how you sit and how your workspace is set up is really important to avoid CTS. Make sure your desk, chair, and computer are arranged so your arms and wrists can stay in a comfortable, natural position.

Hand and Wrist Exercises

These gadgets might not make you fly or see through walls, but they can help you strengthen and stretch your way out of pain and discomfort. Here’s a look at some of the coolest tools in the arsenal:

Grip Strengtheners: These are like a gym for your hands. You can find different kinds, like ones with springs or ones where you can change how hard they are to squeeze. They’re perfect for making your hand muscles stronger. You can use them while watching TV, during a phone call, or when you’re in traffic (but only if you’re not the one driving).

Stress Balls or Therapy Putty: These squishy allies are not just for stress relief or thinking deep thoughts at your desk. Squeezing them can help improve grip strength and flexibility, and with therapy putty, you can also work on individual finger strength by pinching and pulling it into various shapes.

Wrist Extensor and Flexor Stretches: No fancy equipment needed here, just good old gravity and your body. Extend your arm in front of you, palm down, and gently pull the hand back towards you for a wrist extensor stretch. Flip it around, palm up, and gently pull the hand towards you for a flexor stretch. It’s like telling your wrist, “Let’s calm down and be friends, okay?” There are grip hand strengthener and finger exerciers that can be purchased. 

Finger Stretchers: These look like little rubber bands designed for your fingers. They work by resisting your fingers’ outward movements, strengthening the muscles you don’t use as much. It’s like resistance training for your fingers, turning them into little muscle warriors ready to fight off CTS symptoms.

Pain Management

Another simple step is taking pain relief medicine like NSAIDs, which help with pain and swelling. These medicines can give you a bit of relief, but it’s important to use them carefully and talk to a doctor to avoid any bad effects. Also, if you do the same movements over and over, remember to take regular breaks to stretch and rest your hands. This can help stop the symptoms from getting worse.

Lastly, if your work or hobbies contribute to wrist strain, consider consulting an occupational therapist for customized advice on modifying tasks and using adaptive tools to reduce stress on your wrists. This proactive approach, combined with conservative treatment methods, can effectively manage CTS symptoms and improve your overall hand function and quality of life without the need for invasive surgery.

Consider Your Health Overall

Often, CTS symptoms can be a red flag pointing to an underlying condition. A detailed medical history and physical examination, sometimes accompanied by nerve conduction studies, can help diagnose CTS. Managing conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis more effectively can also alleviate CTS symptoms.

Modify Your Daily Activities

Pay attention to how you use your hands and wrists. Making small changes, like making sure your wrist isn’t bent too much in any direction while doing everyday tasks or repetitive actions, can really help lower the chance of getting CTS. Aim to keep your wrist in a straight or “square” position as much as you can.

Wrist Wisdom

Be mindful of how you use your hands and wrists. Simple adjustments, like ensuring your wrist isn’t bent too far in any direction when performing daily activities or during repetitive tasks, can significantly reduce the risk of CTS. Try to keep your wrist in a neutral or “square” position as much as possible. Additionally, consider ergonomic tools and equipment that support a natural hand and wrist posture.

Task Variation

Not just ergonomic keyboards, mice, and desks help reduce strain, but also taking breaks to stretch and rest your hands is key to avoiding overuse. If your work or hobbies mean you’re doing the same hand movements a lot, switching up your tasks during the day can spread the effort more evenly across various muscles, lowering the risk of strain. 

Keep in mind, small changes in how you do things every day can make a big difference in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Seek Professional Advice

If your symptoms are really bad or the simple fixes haven’t helped, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about what else you can do. They might recommend treatments that don’t involve surgery, like shots to ease the pain for a little while, or even talk about surgery if your CTS is really serious. Getting help early can stop more severe problems with your nerves and muscles later on.

Exploring More Options

Also, your doctor can look into other treatments or suggest seeing a specialist like a neurologist or rheumatologist for a deeper check-up. If the usual methods aren’t working, looking into more advanced ways to figure out what’s wrong or trying out the newest treatments might help.

Additionally, your provider can guide you on lifestyle modifications or occupational changes necessary to support your recovery. Seeking advice from a health care professional ensures you’re taking a comprehensive approach to manage your condition, tailored to your specific needs and health status.

CTS Management

Living with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome doesn’t have to be a part of growing older. By understanding the symptoms, risk factors, and incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can manage and even prevent the development of CTS. Whether it’s through conservative treatment, adjusting daily activities, or seeking medical advice for more severe cases, taking action can lead to significant improvement and maintain your quality of life. 

Remember, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Academy of Neurology are excellent resources for additional information and guidance.

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26 thoughts on “Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Tips for Over-50s”

  1. I had no idea carpal tunnel syndrome was more likely to occur as we get older. You’ve offered many great suggestions to help prevent the onset and help keep our hands and wrists healthy. Great post!

  2. Such a helpful post! I work on a computer a lot and crack my knuckles (I know I should stop), so I fear the carpal tunnel may happen, definitely going to take action now though. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great information. Carpol tunnel has been a concern of mine for years since I witnessed coworkers suffer with it. I have used an ergonomic keyboard and mouse pad as prevention. I’m due for a new mouse pad so this is a great reminder. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I didn’t know that carpal tunnel syndrome was so popular. But actually, my husband and his four sisters have it. I started to experience such pain after my second delivery. Thank you for the helpful tips.

  5. Great post! I have been struggling with wrist pain lately, and I believe it’s from being on my computer more. I will have to look into the keyboard you mentioned!

  6. Great suggestions! I had no idea there were so many preventative measures for Carpel Tunnel. I will definitely be putting some of these into practice, especially that fancy looking mouse.

  7. This is such helpful information! I’ve had a lot of hand injuries from being a rock climber and working at my desk and I can attest many of those exercise tools are so helpful. I love the idea to get a more hand-friendly keyboard and mouse too!

  8. Great information on preventing carpal tunnel syndrome. I didn’t realize the risk increased the older we get. I’ll have to try some of the hand and wrist exercises.

  9. These are such great tips! I’m a rock climber and use many of those tools you mention frequently to help with wrist and hand strengthening and pain.

  10. These are such great tips! I’m not over 50, but I’m on my computer a LOT for work and often think I may have carpal tunnel. It hurts! Great tips – thank you for sharing this!

  11. I know a couple of people who suffer with carpal tunnel but I didn’t realize how common it was. Thanks for the informative post! As someone who works from home and is in front of the computer typing all the time, it’s good to know the preventative measures!

  12. This blog post sheds light on a common yet often misunderstood condition, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). It’s informative to learn about the symptoms and causes, especially for those over 50 who may be more susceptible. The personal anecdote adds a relatable touch, highlighting the importance of recognizing early symptoms and seeking medical advice. The affiliate links offer potential solutions while supporting the author – a win-win!

  13. These are great suggestions! My mom had carpal tunnel syndrome & used acupuncture to treat it. I use the computer a lot for work and want to avoid this painful situation.

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