Q: Did typing all day give me carpal tunnel syndrome?
A: Carpal tunnel syndrome has many causes, but compelling data suggest that using a keyboard is not among them.
In carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve in your wrist gets pinched. This typically causes numbness and tingling in the fingers at night, or while talking on the phone or holding a newspaper.
Those don’t fit the typical aches and pains we see with repetitive motion injuries.
But while typing and texting don’t cause carpal tunnel, they can make symptoms more noticeable.
No one really knows what causes this syndrome. But three things increase your risk:
- Your gender. Carpal tunnel strikes three times more women than men.
- Hormonal changes. Pregnancy and menopause exacerbate the condition.
- Lifestyle factors. Obesity, being sedentary and smoking raise your risk.
The good news is that mild carpal tunnel syndrome often goes away after you wear a wrist splint at night for a few weeks. NSAIDs and acetaminophen help to relieve any pain.
A cortisone injection into the carpal tunnel sometimes helps as well.
More serious cases may require surgery. The key is to seek help before you develop round-the-clock numbness. At that point, even surgery won’t completely resolve your symptoms.
—Hand and upper extremity surgeon David Shapiro, MD