Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a repetitive motion injury. It occurs when the median nerve in your arm is regularly pinched and compressed. Workers with CTS commonly feel pain, weakness, and tingling, usually in the first three fingers of the hand and the base of the thumb. Symptoms are often most severe during sleep. Serious cases can be disabling.

Ann, a roofer, first noticed symptoms of CTS when her fingers would tingle and her hand and wrist would begin to feel numb the longer she held a tool. Women are three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men.

Certain conditions increase your risk for developing it, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Lifestyle factors that may increase the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome include smoking, high salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, and a high body mass index (BMI).


What are some ways to reduce CTS?
Paying careful attention to hand posture and avoiding activities that overextend your wrist are important strategies for reducing symptoms. Physical therapy exercises may be helpful as well.


Remember, use tools designed for the job.

  • Use tools that keep your wrist in a neutral position, rather than a forward or backward bend, to minimize force.
  • Rest your hands periodically.
  • Reduce repetition of movement and vary your arm’s position when performing an activity.
  • Select two-handled tools with handles that have a spring return and locking position.
  • Wear gloves or use anti-vibration wraps to improve grip strength and lessen the shock of vibrating tools.


Are there any stretching exercises that you have found to be helpful?
Here are three helpful exercises that can reduce carpal tunnel symptoms.

  1. Spider Push-ups
Spider Push-ups from
  1. Start with your hands together in prayer position.
  2. Spread fingers apart as far you can, then “steeple” the fingers by separating palms of hands, but keeping fingers together.


2. The Shake

The Shake from

This is as straightforward as it sounds: shake hands like you’ve just washed them and are trying to air dry them.


3. Stretch Armstrong

Stretch Armstrong from

This last exercise is the deepest stretch of the set:

  1. Place one arm straight out in front of you, elbow straight, with your wrist extended and fingers facing the floor.
  2. Spread your fingers slightly and use your other hand to apply gentle pressure to the downward-facing hand, stretching your wrist and fingers as far as you’re able.
  3. When you reach your maximum point of flexibility, hold this position for about 20 seconds.
  4. Switch hands and repeat.



  • Use tools designed for the job.
  • Wear gloves or use anti-vibration wraps to lessen shock and vibration.
  • Rest your hands periodically.
  • Keep your wrists in a neutral position
  • Use stretching exercises to reduce the effects of CTS


Let’s be safe out there!

Download a PDF of this ToolBox Talks