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Carpal tunnel not just from repetition

Wrist needs to be flexed

If people get carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive motions, why don’t we get it from writing the same 26 letters of the alphabet over and over again during our lives? — Cindy A., in an office somewhere...

Well, you get it, but you don’t get it, Cindy. Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by mechanical injury usually comes from strenuous motions that require the wrist to be repeatedly flexed. The resulting inflamed wrist tendons press on the median nerve, a sensorimotor nerve that serves your thumb and first three fingers. (The tendons and nerve are squashed into a ring of wrist bones known as the carpal tunnel.) Unless you’re a lefthander who writes in that hyperflexed “overhand” style and do nothing every day but write longhand, the action of handwriting isn’t continuous enough or strenuous enough to cause carpal tunnel syndrome by itself. Of course computer keyboard operators suffer from it. So do sign-language interpreters. But jotting a lifetime’s worth of shopping lists won’t hurt you a bit.

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