As a commercial truck driver in Nebraska, you may spend long hours behind the wheel of your rig. Although meeting hours of service requirements means taking breaks at certain intervals as safety precautions, it can also help you avoid hand and wrist issues.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist, enclosing the median nerve, one of the three major nerves of the hand and forearm. According to the Mayo Clinic, pressure on the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel
If your fingers or hands sometimes feel tingly or numb when gripping the steering wheel, it could be the first sign of carpal tunnel. It usually begins with the thumb, middle and index fingers. You may occasionally feel a sensation like an electric shock shooting through these fingers and up your wrist and arm. Over time the symptoms may become constant.
Weakness in your hand may result in being unable to grip the wheel or change gears easily. You may drop objects when symptoms flare up. As carpel tunnel gets worse, you may have reduced grip strength because the muscles in your hand shrink. You may also experience muscle cramping and pain.
Fighting carpal tunnel
Giving your wrists and hands a break from the stress and vibration of driving can help you fight carpal tunnel. White knuckling the steering wheel in traffic and poor road conditions is a common reflex. However, if possible, keep your grip loose. It puts less stress on your wrists. During breaks, take a few minutes to stretch the hands, wrists and arms, this can reduce the pressure put on the median nerve.
If the pain or weakness in your hand, wrist and arm prevents you from driving, a workers’ compensation claim can help you recover lost wages and pay for medical bills.