Typing considered harmful
Now that I've got your attention :-)
Many programmers suffer from
carpal tunnel syndrome
and/or pinched nerves in the neck, and can no longer type without pain.
It can even interfere with daily life, making sleeping, opening
bottles, and filling up your car with gas difficult.
There are many possible causes. Here are a few I know of personally:
- Typing with your wrist resting upon a sharp edge (I'm
thinking of Bill G's wooden door desks at Knowledge Adventure :-)
- Letting forearm muscles get weak
- Typing while forearm muscles are sore and irritated (which causes
tendon swelling, which irritates nerves that share the carpal tunnel
with those tendons)
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Carpal
Tunnel Syndrome treatment guide
says in part
A course of non-operative treatment is an option in
patients diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Early surgery is an option when there is clinical evidence of median nerve
denervation or the patient elects to proceed
directly to surgical treatment.
We suggest another non-operative treatment or surgery
when the current treatment fails to resolve the
symptoms within 2 weeks to 7 weeks.
- Local steroid injection or splinting is suggested when treating patients
with carpal tunnel syndrome, before considering surgery.
- Oral steroids or ultrasound are options when treating patients with carpal
- We recommend carpal tunnel release as treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Heat therapy is not among the options that should be used to treat patients
with carpal tunnel syndrome.
- We recommend surgical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome by complete
division of the flexor retinaculum regardless of the specific surgical technique.
Wear wrist splints at night (I like Modabber's
brace; it's the only one I've found comfortable) helps prevent further
- Plunge both arms into ice water for 30 seconds, then hot water for 30
seconds, repeat several times per day; see e.g. this
page for similar tip
- Strengthen the forearm muscles
- Stretch the forearm muscles (there are *many* books and web pages on the
subject, see e.g. this
- Research results
- pubmed 21477381
looked at seven studies, and found that surgical treatment was better than
nonsurgical treatment, but had more complications.
- pubmed 21153642 found splinting plus phonophresis/iontophoresis of betamethasone helped reduce symptoms more than splinting alone
- pubmed 19347928, a double-blind study with 17 patients, found six sessions of iontophoresis of dexamethasone no more effective than placebo
- pubmed 18719003
describes iontophoresis of dexamethasone
- pubmed 17443508 evaluated 12 studies, and found a single injection of corticosteroids effectively provided some relief for a month
- pubmed 15668556 found that injection of methylprednisolone was more effective than iontophoresis of dexamethasone.