Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a very painful condition suffered by people who use their hands. It is referred to as a repetitive stress injury. It is believed that in some cases, the use of gloves can help to alleviate or even prevent repetitive stress injuries from occurring.
What is a Repetitive Stress Injury?
In simple terms, a repetitive stress injury is something that happens when we overuse or exert a large amount of stress on one part of the body. This type of injury is a cumulative condition. This means that it occurs in a small amount every time we do it. As we complete the action over and over again, the condition becomes worse.
Generally these types of injuries occur at the joints, though they can occur on other parts of the body as well.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a repetitive stress injury that occurs in the carpal tunnel; a small passageway in the wrist. The channel is formed by the carpal ligament, and eight small carpal bones in the wrist. There are several nerves, tendons and arteries that all pass through the carpal tunnel.
Pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome is due to pressure on the median nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel. This pressure can be caused by scar tissue which builds up over time do to repetitive actions done with the fingers and the wrists. It can also occur due to swelling of the tendons or ligaments that run through the carpal tunnel.
As these conditions heal, they can leave scar tissue in the carpal tunnel that presses on the medial nerve. Along with the pain, numbness of the thumb and first two fingers can occur. Weakening of the grip is another symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Typing on a keyboard is one example of an action that can cause this syndrome. Working with vibrating tools can also cause these types of injuries to the wrist. Repetitive work, such as work on an assembly line that requires repeated flexing of the wrist can add pressure to the median nerve.
Scientific evidence is conflicting about all these cases. There may be other factors that contribute to carpal tunnel, but researchers are still working on defining the reasons.
There are several precautions that can be taken if your work or hobbies consist of repetitive actions that put stress on the carpal tunnel.
• Keep your hands warm – Good circulation through the wrists will help to prevent stiffness and pain from developing. When working in a cold environment, this can be difficult. Cold restricts blood flow and keeps blood vessels small, causing hands to stiffen up. Using gloves that keep your hands sufficiently warm could help.
• Posture and form – Good posture can help keep the wrists in the proper position to maximize blood flow. Keeping your neck, shoulders and elbows in the proper position will translate down to your wrists and take stress off of them. Remember to keep your wrists in a relaxed middle position as much as possible.
• Relax your grip and use the right amount of force – When working, people tend to use more force than necessary. This means adding to the amount of grip that is needed to hold on to the tool. Backing off the force and relaxing your grip can aid in prevention. Also, make sure work gloves fit well and are properly selected to avoid hand fatigue.
• Take breaks – Stop whenever you can to stretch out your wrists and fingers. This is particularly important if you are using vibrating equipment or you need to exert a lot of grip on the tool you are using. Give your wrist a break.
How Can Gloves Help?
One important part of prevention can be using the proper pair of gloves. Here are some ways that gloves can help prevent carpal tunnel.
• Gloves keep hands warm. If you work outside in the winter or indoors in a cold environment like a walk-in freezer, gloves are a great way to keep your hands and wrists warm. They can keep the blood flowing to prevent injury.
If you are a computer user whose hands get cold, fingerless gloves are an option. They keep the important part of the hands used for typing uncovered, but keep the palm and wrists warm for improved circulation.
• Gloves with palms and fingers that are coated with grip assisting materials can reduce the grip force needed on tools. If gloves are needed to keep the hands warm in outdoor or cold environments, palm-coated gloves can be a game changer when it comes to grip force needed.
• Vibration dampening or padded gloves can help reduce the vibration force on hands and wrists. Gloves made with special padding or dampening properties can help to reduce injuries due to using equipment that vibrates.
Remember when choosing gloves, tight gloves that can restrict blood flow may make a repetitive stress injury worse. The key is to keep the wrists and hands warm and keep blood flowing.
Superior Glove has a wide array of gloves to choose from. Take a look today to see if any of our offerings might address your work environment.