skip to main content

VelocityEHS Ergonomist, Blake McGowan, CPE, discusses the signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and offers advice on the features to look for in a computer keyboard and mouse.

Video Transcript

Jennifer: Hi, I’m Jennifer, and this is Blake, our certified professional ergonomist with Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics). Today, Blake is going to share some tips on how to prevent the most common musculoskeletal disorder. The most common musculoskeletal disorder is, Blake?

Blake: Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Jennifer: Carpal tunnel syndrome. Before he shares those tips, can you explain exactly what that is?

Blake: Sure. Simply put, carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve that travels through the carpal tunnel, and it’s typically associated with swelling of the tendons that pass through that tunnel. If you’re experiencing some of those signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is typically tingling or numbness in the area between the thumb and the ring finger on the palm side of the hand, weakness from gripping, as well as some pain or discomfort.

Jennifer: So, you said carpal tunnel is a compression of that nerve. What types of tasks actually compress that nerve?

Blake: Yeah. There are definitely tasks that associate or cause the compression of that nerve. There are also some anatomical as well as health issues, but in the office workstation or office environment, there’s kind of two typical things that cause compression: repetitive keying or forceful movements.

Jennifer: So, what can people do to prevent or lessen their severity?

Blake: Sure, a few quick tips starting off with the computer keyboard. I’ll share kind of three tips with you. First, when choosing a computer keyboard, try and choose one that has as thin as possible surface. We want to keep the wrist as straight as possible while keying. If you have a keyboard that’s really thick or angled up, it will cause you to extend your wrist upwards. Second, there are some computer keyboards that have these legs that extend on the backside. Turn those down in order to minimize that angle as well as keep it as soon as possible. A third thing to consider when choosing a keyboard is to try and have a keyboard that doesn’t have that numeric keypad if you don’t need it. By removing that, it will minimize any awkward deviated positions of that right hand because typically the numeric keypad is on the right side.

With regards to a mouse, one of the things that we try and recommend is choosing a mouse that puts your wrist and hand in a position with the thumb pointing up as much as possible. Try to avoid a position where the thumb is horizontal because it usually results in the wrist being extended, which increases the pressure inside the carpal tunnel. So, try and choose the most that has kind of a thumbs-up position.

Jennifer: Great, well thank you for sharing those tips.

For more information on how to set up your workstation to prevent carpal tunnel or any other musculoskeletal disorders, visit our website, or you can also check out our YouTube channel for some tutorials.

Thanks, and have a great day.