Daily commute might cause more than psychological pain

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 30th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

As if crawling congestion and crazy drivers weren’t enough to drive you mad, experts have found another reason for you to hate your daily commute. The culprit? Wrist pain.

Hours in the car can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition where the median nerve… which runs from the forearm to the hand… becomes compressed at the wrist, causing weakness, numbness and pain.

According to an occupational therapist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, prolonged gripping of anything… including steering wheels… can help cause the condition. Talking on a cell phone is another dangerous yet familiar commuting activity that can cause pain. Holding your cell phone with a bent wrist increases your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually start gradually with frequent burning, tingling or numbness in the palm of the hand and fingers.

The following are some tips to help you stay safe and keep pain away:

• Switch the hand you drive with, alternating between your left and your right

• Keep your hand in line with your elbow and your wrist straight

• If you imagine your steering wheel is a clock, the best position to put your wrist in would be at three o’clock or nine o’clock

• If you’re going to use your cell phone in the car, use an earpiece or headset

But if symptoms are still sending you down the pathway to pain, see a doctor.