Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and You: The Issue, and 10 Things You Can Do to Prevent It

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome consists of pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the fingers or hand caused by pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. The median nerve controls the feeling and movement in the thumb and all of the fingers except the pinky. For a dentist, this syndrome can be quite debilitating, as this profession requires the full use of both hands in order to examine and perform surgery on patients. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the symptoms and causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, as well as 10 steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

Symptoms and Causes

While there are multiple symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, there are a few that are rather noteworthy:

  • Sleep interruption from numb hands and tingling fingers: you may think that the numbness and tingling is simply due to sleeping on your hand in an awkward position, but there may be more to it than that.
  • Loss of fine motor skills/weakness in hands.
  • Pain radiating up the arm: it may just radiate up the forearm, or it could potentially also make your shoulder and neck ache.
  • Hand pain or wrist pain: this is perhaps the most straightforward symptom of the syndrome.

There seems to be no one cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but there are several risk factors, including:

  • Anatomic factors: wrist fractures or dislocations can lead to extra pressure on the median nerve.
  • Sex: the syndrome is more common in women.
  • Inflammatory conditions: illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Workplace: working with vibrating tools, holding static positions for a long time, repetitive motions with the wrist. These workplace factors put dentists at a higher risk for contracting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than the general population.

10 Ways to Prevent CTS

Here are 10 helpful exercises and tips that may help prevent or delay the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

1. Stop traffic.

a. Extend arms in front of you.
b. Extend wrists and fingers back as if you’re directing traffic to stop.
c. Hold position for 5 seconds, and then relax fingers and wrists.
d. Repeat exercise nine times.

(See Free carpal tunnel exercises at


2. Throw some punches.

a. Extend arms in front of you.
b. Keep wrists straight, and squeeze your hand into a fist.
c. Hold position for 5 seconds.
d. Keep clenching your fists and bend your wrist down.
e. Hold that position for 5 seconds, and then relax fingers and wrists.
f. Repeat exercise 9 times.

(See Free carpal tunnel exercises at


3. Pray.

a. Place your palms together in front of your chest as if you are praying.
b. Slowly lower your hands down, keeping them close to your body and your palms together.
c. You should feel a stretch in your forearms.
d. Hold that position for 12-30 seconds.
e. Repeat exercise 2-4 times.

4. Wear a wrist splint while you sleep to keep your wrist in a neutral position so as to reduce the stress on your fingers, hands, and wrists.

5. Don’t grip with just the thumb and index finger, because it can stress the wrist. When possible, use your whole hand to hold on to an object.

6. When working with vibrating tools, use gloves that are specially designed to support the wrist and have vibration-absorbing padding.

7. Try to limit your salt intake as water retention can contribute to the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

8. Improve your posture: position your chair so that your arms rest on your desk at a right angle, so that you don’t bend your wrists as much as you work. Posture also is important in that slouching can affect your body from your neck and shoulders down to your wrists and median nerve.

9. Keep your hands warm. Coldness leads to stiffness and stiffness can lead to pain. Although gloves probably are out of the question when seeing patients, just making an effort to keep your hands warmer is important.

10. Take frequent breaks. While this may not be as feasible for a dentist bouncing from patient to patient, it is important to give your wrists and hands a chance to rest, even if it’s for just a couple of minutes every hour.


While none of these tips will completely prevent the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, they may be useful for extending the amount of time one is able to work before developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A dentist may be able to continue working for some time after being diagnosed with the syndrome, but as soon as this illness impinges on one’s practice, one should consult with a doctor and potentially file for disability insurance benefits.

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