Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetitive wrist motions in activities such as typing can cause a painful condition in the wrists and hands known as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Every year, thousands of office workers contract CTS, a debilitating injury that costs millions of dollars to employers, as well as the health—if not the livelihoods—of employees.

A man holding his wrist over a keyboardAlthough typewriter keyboards have been part of many people’s working lives for over a century, they didn’t cause CTS. Time-saving computer keyboards, ironically, are the source of the problem. Workers may be happy that they don’t need to interrupt their work every few minutes to change ribbons or insert a new piece of paper. But the uninterrupted, repetitive motions that characterize computer keyboard usage (particularly data entry) open the door to trouble. A data entry clerk who types 40 words per minute could perform the same repetitive motion nearly 80,000 times in one workday.

Workers in other industries, such as food packing and automobile assembly, have suffered from repetitive-motion injuries for years. But the condition went largely unreported until recently—perhaps because it now afflicts large numbers of people who work in media.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome? It happens when the median nerve gets damaged. The median nerve passes through the arm and wrist into the hand, on the palm side. That nerve supplies the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger with sensation and muscle control. It passes through a narrow space in the underside of the wrist called the carpal tunnel. Damage can cause severe swelling or compression of the nerve, resulting in tingling, numbness, or pain beginning at the tips of the thumb, index, or middle finger.

Dealing With the Pain

Symptoms of CTS span from occasionally annoying to frequently excruciating, and in rare cases, to complete disablement of the wrist muscles. If left untreated, CTS can progress from “just a little tingle in the fingers” to severe pain and possibly even numbness in the hands. Some believe that to get CTS, you must be predisposed to it.

Preventive Tips

Many of the things you can do to relieve or prevent CTS—such as taking frequent breaks and performing exercises—cut into productivity, so employers may not want you to do them on company time. However, I know of some employers who encourage employees to take exercise breaks.

To prevent CTS, try to keep repetitive movements to a minimum. Don’t type so quickly, and try to relax a bit, relieving tension and stress on the hand muscles and ligaments. Reducing the speed and force with which you touch the keys on your keyboard can reduce your risk of CTS. Try to take periodic breaks to relax your hands. If you follow these steps daily, you can prevent long-term work loss and medical expenses costing thousands of dollars.

Other things can help too. For instance, by positioning your computer display and keyboard properly, you can reduce the flexing at your wrist as you type.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Always try to sit using good posture. After typing a while, just sit up straighter; you’ll feel an immediate improvement.
  • Align the top of your video display with the middle of your forehead. Your eyes should be looking at a point that’s just about in the center of the video display. You won’t be as likely to slouch, thus bending your arms and wrists into the “risk” position.
  • Position your keyboard so your arms can hang straight down from your shoulder to your elbow and slightly downward from your elbow to your hands.
  • Avoid a cold environment. Temperatures significantly lower than normal make the tendons in your hands less flexible and therefore more prone to irritation and swelling. It’s difficult for me to type in a cold room because my fingers feel stiff.
  • An adjustable computer screen and a movable keyboard can help make your typing motions less repetitious. If you’re working with a laptop, move it around your desk periodically to adjust distances and viewing angle.


A woman with a wrist brace on while using a laptopIf you think you have CTS, see your doctor as soon as possible. The condition is progressive, and early treatment can prevent permanent damage or the need for radical measures. If you let it go too long without treatment, you may need surgery to relieve the pain. Your doctor may also recommend devices, such as straps or braces, that relieve the pain and are relatively inexpensive.

Exercises Will Help

You can do several exercises to help prevent CTS. If you sit for long periods typing, here are a few quick routines you can do throughout the day:

  • Place your arms down at your sides and sit up straight. Stretch your fingers, and hold that position for a count of 10. Make a tight fist for five seconds, and then relax your fingers. Try to do this three times.
  • Rest your right elbow on a table, and then gently pull back on the fingers of your right hand with your left hand. Hold the position for five seconds, and then repeat with the left hand.
  • Put your hands over your head, and stretch as far as you’re able to. Now put your arms down and repeat this movement two more times.
  • Don’t look at the monitor while you’re doing these exercises. Look at something as far away as possible. This will relax your eyes and reduce overall tension, making you less likely to stress your wrists as you work.

Pick one of these exercises and try it right now.

Excerpt from my online Keyboarding class.

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Keyboarding Class – Student Review


A review from a student in my Keyboarding class:


Thank you for teaching this course. Your Tips, Resources and Study
materials were very helpful. I would recommend this course to anyone
seeking to improve accuracy and/ or speed. This course and the program
software is designed for both. For anyone who wishes to type from
reading materials without looking at the fingers, then I would suggest
taking “Touch Typing.” This course really works! From the  first
lesson and after many years, I broke that habit. I had fun learning. I will
never look at my fingers again! Take the course. It’s worth every

I love teaching!


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Four new online classes launched in October


2EducateYou is so pleased to announce the launch of four new instructor-facilitated, six-week online classes:

Introduction to Peachtree Accounting 2012

Handle accounting tasks quickly and easily with Peachtree Accounting 2012! With the help of hands-on activities and step-by-step instructions, you’ll quickly master all the skills you need to handle your routine accounting needs. If you find day-to-day accounting a struggle, Peachtree is the perfect solution for you. With the power of this software on your side, you’ll breeze through those routine accounting chores you used to dread!

Introduction to Microsoft Outlook 2010

Are you overwhelmed by emails, meetings, and to-do lists? Harness the power of Microsoft Outlook 2010, and you’ll instantly enhance your efficiency and productivity. In this course, you’ll learn your way around the new ribbon-based interface and get up and running quickly. Then you’ll focus on the core skills you really need in order to work smarter and faster. Whether you’re new to Outlook or you’ve been using it for years, you’re sure to learn something useful in every lesson. In just a few weeks, you’ll be a skilled and confident user of this time-saving tool—and you’ll never have to worry about missing a meeting, losing an email, or forgetting an important task again!

Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 – I’m happy to say that I teach this class!

Take your PowerPoint presentations from “so-so” to sensational! In these lessons, you’ll learn how to use Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 to create professional-quality slide presentations that grab and hold your audience’s attention from start to finish. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced user, these lessons will teach you how to turn simple slides into a polished and exciting presentation that will make your message memorable. If you want to take your PowerPoint skills to a higher level, this is the course for you!

Intermediate Dreamweaver CS5

Take your web design skills to new heights as you master advanced Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 techniques! You’ll get hands-on practice in using pure CSS layout and discover how to incorporate multimedia elements such as Flash video and audio. In addition, you’ll explore the use of XML and XSL. Whether you’re planning a career in web design, designing a website for your business, or developing sites as a hobby, this course will give you the tools you need to look like a pro.

It’s not too late to enroll in the October 19 class. Other start dates this year are November 9 and December 14, 2011. Enroll today!



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What are you learning today?

I love being involved in education…learning and teaching. Every day I’m learning something new to expand my mind and pass on to others.

I haven’t taken marketing classes, so I decided to enroll in Marketing Your Business on the Interneticon. In this six-week online class, I will learn how to market my business on the Internet, even on a budget.

Now that I have a domain name and web host, I’m looking forward to learning more about establishing an Internet presence and building an online brand identity. I am sure I have made some mistakes up to this point! An important part of this is learning how search engine optimization (SEO) works and how to track my site’s performance using Web analytics.

I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge of online advertising, email marketing, and social media from the instructor, who is a Web development expert specializing in marketing, user experience, and e-commerce. Hopefully, I’ll be passing on some tips to you!

Well that’s what I’ll be learning over the next six weeks. How about you?


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2EducateYou Introduces New Online Course: Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010

2EducateYou has a program that makes it easy to take high-quality, noncredit online courses. 2EducateYou has partnered with ed2go to offer hundreds of online, instructor-led courses and is pleased to announce the launch of Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010.

Participants in this course will learn how to use Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 to create exciting slide presentations that include text, objects, SmartArt, multimedia, animation, sound, charts, clip art, and hyperlinks. With the help of hands-on activities and step-by-step instructions, even beginners will quickly be creating everything from professional-quality business presentations to PowerPoint photo albums.

This course is part of 2EducateYou’s growing catalog of more than 300 instructor-facilitated online courses. Through well-crafted lessons, expert online instruction, and interaction with fellow students, participants in these courses gain valuable knowledge at their convenience. They have the flexibility to study at their own pace combined with enough structure and support to complete the course. And they can access the classroom 24/7 from anywhere with an Internet connection.

New sessions of each course run every month. They last six weeks, with two new lessons being released weekly (for a total of 12). The courses are entirely Web-based with comprehensive lessons, quizzes, and assignments. A dedicated professional instructor facilitates every course; pacing learners, answering questions, giving feedback, and facilitating discussions.

To learn more, visit the course website: Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010

Kathy Van Pelt

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Create a Website-in-a-Day Class

In this one-day, hands-on workshop, you’ll learn the basic principles for creating a Web site. Students will learn how to:

  • Create HTML code
  • Use an HTML editor to create HTML code
  • Use an HTML template to create web pages
  • Choose a host and domain name
  • Create a Web site with a homepage
  • Create links
  • Create and insert Web-formatted photos
  • Upload to a Web server
  • The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Come with an idea of how you would like your Website to look, the content you would like to include, and any Web-ready photos that have been re-sized for Web pages.

Students may bring a USB drive.

Friday, September 23, 2011, 9:00 am – 3:30 p.m. or Friday, December 2, 2011, 9:00 am – 3:30 p.m.
Tuition: $80.00

Materials Cost: $10.00

Register: Online/ or by phone: 760-795-6820

MiraCosta College-San Elijo Campus
3333 Manchester Avenue
Cardiff, CA 92007

Directions: Take I-5 to Manchester Ave. exit. Go east on Manchester Ave. A free parking pass for your class or workshop can be obtained at the front desk of the Administration Building on campus.

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Where is the More button on the Microsoft Office 2007/2010 Ribbon?

A student asked me the other day where to find the WordArt More button on the PowerPoint 2007 Ribbon.

The More button certainly can be difficult to find if you’ve never used it. When you’re creating or editing a WordArt object in PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, you’ll find the More button on the WordArt Styles group (which is on the Drawing Tools Format contextual tab). Here’s an example of the WordArt Styles group on the PowerPoint 2010 Ribbon (with the default Office theme):


WordArt Styles group

WordArt Styles Group on the PowerPoint 2010 Ribbon

In this example, you can see three WordArt styles. Next to the three WordArt styles are three buttons which you may use to scroll through the various WordArt styles…one with an up arrow; one with a down arrow; and another with a down arrow with a horizontal line above it. I refer to the up arrow as the Previous Row button, the down arrow as the Next Row button, and the bottom button is the More button.

Clicking the Next Row button displays the next three WordArt styles available. Clicking Previous Row displays the three previous WordArt styles. And clicking More displays all the WordArt styles as shown below:


WordArt styles

All WordArt Styles

The PowerPoint theme determines the WordArt styles; so if you’re using a theme other than the default Office theme, your WordArt styles will look different from the above examples.

The More button is also found on the Microsoft Word Ribbon, always grouped with the Previous and Next Row buttons, when there are more styles to view. For example, here an example of the Styles group on the Home tab on the Word 2010 Ribbon:

Styles group on Word Ribbon

Styles group on Word 2010 Ribbon

In the example, you can see 8 of the 16 available styles. To see the next 8 styles, you’d click the Next Row button; and to see all the styles, you’d click the More button.  Here’s an example of all the Word styles available you’d see when clicking the More button in the Styles group:

All Word styles

All Styles available on the Styles Group

If you need further clarification, please let me know!


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Online Web Design Classes You’ll Love!

From simple Web site design to advanced programming classes, there’s something for everybody. All classes are six weeks long and offered monthly.

o    Web and Graphic Design Online Courses (Creating Web Pages, Introduction to CSS and XHTML, Introduction to Dreamweaver)

o    Web Development (Introduction to PHP and MySQL, Introduction to C++ Programming, etc.)

o    Web 2.0: Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts

o    Introduction to Creating WordPress Web Sites

o    Computers and Technology Courses (including Web and Computer Programming)

o    Intermediate CSS and XHTML (Graphic and Multimedia Design Courses)

o    Achieving Top Search Engine Positions

Keep on learning!


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New Keyboarding Class

ed2go is pleased to announce a major update to an instructor-led online course designed to help students improve their keyboarding speed and accuracy. This course is popular with students seeking careers in health care, office management, and related fields.

This course has been fully revised to allow students to use the latest keyboarding software, Keyboarding Pro 5. The title and price for this course will remain the same.


Instructor: Kathy Van Pelt

Description: Students will learn how to touch-type or improve their existing typing skills using Keyboarding Pro 5. By the end of the course, they will know how to touch-type the alphabetic, numeric, and symbol keys; create, save, and edit word processing documents; and successfully take a timed writing test during a job interview.

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April Web Site/WordPress Classes

Need help creating a Web site? Want to create one along with a blog with WordPress? Listed below are some good options. You can still enroll in these six-week classes that started Wednesday, April 20. The next session start Wednesday, May 18.

Have fun!



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