You’ve probably heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). At one time or another, you may have even seen a coworker sitting alongside you at the office with an odd-looking arm splint on their forearm. When so many of us now work typing and clicking a mouse button at a desk all day long, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is becoming one of the most prolific modern-day ailments affecting millions every year. And the surgery to alleviate its symptoms, known as carpal tunnel release, is now one of the most common hand-related surgeries in the country.
To understand a little more about CTS, let's go into a little more detail about your wrist’s anatomy. Essentially, the major nerve that runs down the entire length of your arm is called the median nerve. This nerve transmits signals back and forth from your fingers and controlling their movement and sensation. As it connects from your wrist down through to your hands, it passes through a tunnel of bones and tendons that both surrounds and protects it. However, the carpal tunnel that surrounds the median nerve can become swollen and put pressure on the nerve itself. This pressure can lead to many of the below symptoms:
The major problem with all of these symptoms is that they lead to less and less use of your fingers and hands due to the weakness and pain, consequently causing even less movement in a downward loop of weakened activity.
Carpal Tunnel problems can be caused by numerous factors; some are simply genetic or hormonal in nature. It can also be caused by arthritis and other bone diseases. Pregnant women are known to suffer from it, leading to CTS being diagnosed 3x more in women than in men.
But most often it’s caused by monotonous, repetitive, small movements of the hands. Having a job where you perform the same repetitive motion of your arm, wrists, or hands day in day out will put you in line for CTS. It’s seen very commonly among office workers, hairdressers, seamstresses, factory line workers, and professional musicians (think guitar players). Athletes who repeatedly grasp tennis rackets, balls, and other heavy objects are also susceptible to carpal tunnel maladies.
There are a range of different treatments that can be used for anyone suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, from forearm splints to anti-inflammatory medication. Often just some ergonomic changes at your keyboard and workstation can make a big difference. In more severe cases, wrist surgery may be necessary.
But some of the easiest remedies are just simple stretches you can do at your desk, on your break, or at home watching TV. Take a look and try out some of our strengthening and stretching movements and perform them for a good 3-4 weeks.
You may find that consistently practicing the below exercises helps relieve many of the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, always talk to a doctor first if you’re experiencing pain or numbness in any part of the body. These stretches can help you, but it’s of course always smart policy to consult with a medical professional.
Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE and the founder of MoveWell. Joel founded MoveWell after sustaining an injury while running an ultra marathon on every continent. Joel is writes about mobility, pain management and health and wellness overall.