Physical Therapy Guide To Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the wrist and hand. CTS can affect the use of the entire arm. It is caused by pressure on the nerve at the base of the palm . Because of the constant demands people place on their hands and wrists, surgery may be needed when symptoms are severe. For many people with CTS, however, physical therapy treatment can relieve pain and numbness. It often can help restore normal hand, wrist, and arm use without the need for surgery.
Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
Exercises To Help Carpal Tunnel
1. Wrist Rotations
Rotate your wrists by moving only your hands up, down, left, and right. Repeat up to four times.
2. Finger Stretch
Stretch your fingers wide and then relax them, and repeat up to four times.
3. Thumb Stretch
Using your opposite hand, push your thumb backwards until you feel a gentle stretch. Repeat up to four times.
4. Prayer Stretch
Step 1: Put your hands together under your chin in a prayer position.
Step 2: Push your hands down to your waist until you feel a moderate stretch. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat between two and four times.
5. Wrist Flexor Stretch
Some experts recommend doing this stretch a few times each day. You may want to do it before any activity that tends to aggravate your carpal tunnel symptoms.
Step 1: Hold your hand out in front of you, with the palm face up.
Step 2: Bend your hand back towards the floor, stretching the palm side of the wrist.
Step 3: Use your other hand to bend your hand back even more, deepening the stretch. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat on each hand between two and four times.
6. Wrist Extensor Stretch
Experts also recommend doing this exercise a few times each day, especially before activities leading to aggravation of carpal tunnel.
Step 1: Hold your hand out in front of you, with the palm face down.
Step 2: Bend your hand forward towards the floor, stretching the back of the wrist.
7. Medial Nerve Glide
Step 1: Make a fist.
Step 2: Extend your fingers, keeping your thumb close to your fingers.
Can You Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There is no surefire way for you to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from happening. However, there are some things you can do to avoid it, such as:
- Avoiding repetitive motions that put excess pressure on your wrist and hands .
- Make sure to exercise regularly and stretch your wrist and hand muscles often to increase blood flow to your hand.
- Eat a diet rich in vitamin B to help your body metabolize fat and protein efficiently.
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Want To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Modify Your Workspace
Do your fingers start to tingle or go numb after working at your computer for too long? If so, you could have carpal tunnel syndrome. This painful condition can affect your grip strength and make typing very uncomfortable. Modifying your workspace may be the key to preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Numbness and tingling in the thumb, pointer finger, middle finger, or half of your palm
- Sharp pain in your hands, wrist, or forearms
- Weakness in your hands or wrists
- Sensation of pins and needles
- Hand clumsiness
If youre experiencing any of these symptoms, its important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Read more about symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome here.
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Mind Your Overall Sitting Posture
It all starts with the way you sit. When you sit with bad posture, your whole entire body is going to compensate for the misalignment, especially if your wrists are already in pain. To help find better comfort when typing, sit with your back straight, allowing your arms and wrists positioned at a 90-degree angle.
Think about it this way: whenever you sit poorly, your wrists will automatically remain in a bad position for typing. For example, when the desk is too high, your wrists will bend inward. If you have done your part to sit with proper posture, you can easily adjust your wrist positioning, which brings us too…
How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel With Rest
Simple rest is one of the most important ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health saystaking regular breaksis one of the crucial things you can do to prevent most musculoskeletal disorders.
NIOSHrecommendstaking rest breaks lasting up to 3 minutes when you’re using your hands. During these breaks, it’s most helpful if you can also:
- Drop your hands to your sides and shake them out
- Do fast hand stretches
- Stretch out your arms
- Stretch your back by arching backward
- Squeeze your shoulders together
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What Is Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects millions of Americans each year, yet experts arent entirely sure what causes it. A combination of lifestyle and genetic factors are likely to blame. However, the risk factors are so diverse that nearly everybody has one or more of them at some point in their lives.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness, stiffness, and pain in the fingers and hand. There is no known way to prevent carpal tunnel, but some exercises can reduce your chances of experiencing symptoms.
We spoke with John DiBlasio, MPT, DPT, CSCS, a Vermont-based physical therapist, for exercise suggestions.
Here are three basic moves you can do any time of day. These stretches and exercises are simple and dont require any equipment. You can easily do them at your desk, while waiting in line, or whenever you have a minute or two to spare.
Problems like carpal tunnel are best addressed with stretches done throughout the day, says Dr. DiBlasio. Protect your wrists in just a few minutes a day with these easy movements.
Remember that nursery rhyme from when you were a kid? Turns out its a great stretch for your hands:
This is as straightforward as it sounds: Shake your hands like youve just washed them and are trying to air dry them.
How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome At Work
There arent many risks associated with desk jobs, or working in safe environments such as office buildings. However, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sheds light on several positions in these environments that put you at increased risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome , a painful condition that affects your hand and wrist.
Dr. Douglas J. Abeles is a highly regarded orthopaedic surgeon who diagnoses and treats carpal tunnel syndrome. Along with his team of medical specialists, they help men and women find both nonsurgical and surgical solutions for CTS pain so you can perform your daily activities without discomfort.
Does your profession put you at risk for CTS? Below are some of the most effective ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome at work.
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Stretching Is Great For Carpal Tunnel Prevention
Regular stretching exercises are probably the most powerful techniques you can use for carpal tunnel prevention. In particular, finger, hand, and wrist stretching exercises help tendons glide more smoothly. This makes finger movement more efficient.
The best hand and finger stretching exercises are calledcore exercises. And they take no longer than30 seconds to do.That way, you can do them every 30 minutes you work. You can do more involved stretching exercises if your symptoms are worse. But for the average person trying to avoid hand pain and carpal tunnel, the following are excellent exercises.
I promise you this:make these fast and easy core exercises part of your work routine. If you do, you’ll NEVER suffer from hand pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Tip: Get a timer that chimes every 30 minutes. This reminds you to drop everything, stretch, and go back to working again.
Wrist & Hand Fracture
If you have shooting pain in your hand or wrist, you may have a wrist or hand fracture. Fracturing, or breaking, the bones in the wrist or hand is extremely easy because of their size and structure. Read on to learn how wrist and hand fractures are treated by Dr. Patel and the Atlanta Hand Specialists.
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Use A Wrist Support Cushion
Certain tools, like a wrist support cushion, is designed specifically to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from ever happening. The idea is that the cushion can help promote better positioning of the hands when typing or using the mouse. Just be sure to do your research and figure out if a wrist rest is for you or not.
PRO TIP: Choosing the right wrist support can be overwhelming, as there are many products claiming that theyre ergonomic. Weve done proper research of the best ergonomic wrist support to help you make the best buying decision. Best of all, some of them include a combo for your mouse and keyboard.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome While Gaming
Gamers who spend hours using a keyboard or game controller are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Some tips for preventing the symptoms include:
- Take breaks. Give your hands a break by taking some time away from the computer or gaming console. Every couple of hours, get up and move around. This will also improve circulation.
- Use correct posture. Sit up straight and position your screen at a level where you can keep your head up and eyes straight.
- Use an ergonomic mouse. A vertical mouse that changes the position of your wrist might be the answer.
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Who Gets Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Most hand pain is due to overworking the fingers, hand or wrist. Eliminating that pain is relatively simple. Just refrain from the stressful activity for a couple days to rest your hand.Butchronichand pain may be something else specifically,carpal tunnel syndrome.
More and more people are gettingcarpal tunnel syndromeevery year. Exactly why it’s on the rise is unknown. But today it’s one of the top musculoskeletal problems seen by doctors. Due to the high cost of this disorder, many employers and insurance carriers are focusing on less expensive carpal tunnelpreventionpolicies instead oftreatments.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful and progressive disorder of the fingers and hand. Scientists believe it’s primarily due to our modern workplace habits. For instance, patients say typing at a keyboard for long hours caused their carpal tunnel. And so have workers from varied occupations like assembly line work,hairdressing, hand tool users,guitar playersandvideo gamers. These are only a few examples ofhigh risk occupations.
How Can We Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome may involve redesigning work stations, tools, or the job, and educating workers. Proper work station design reduces awkward wrist positions and minimizes the stressful effects of repetitive motions. Awkward positions can originate from unsuitable work station designs that do not take into account the size and proportions of the human body. Work stations should be adjustable and should accommodate a vast majority of people who work in that area.
Redesigning work methods is important. For example, using an adjustable fixture to hold an electrical housing, as Figure 3 shows, reduces wrist flexion.
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Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Image via Flickr by Ryan Finnie
You can also prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by making some lifestyle changes.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying additional weight can slow down how fast the nerves travel to your hand. Extra weight can result in a lack of physical activity, which can increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Use a loose grip. No matter what you do, practice it with a loose grip. If you hold something too tightly, whether its a paintbrush, pencil, or another small tool, it can contribute to wrist compression and increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. To avoid this, practice some wrist exercises while you work, such as deliberately loosening your grip and shaking your hand while holding a pen or brush.
- Stop smoking. If you are a smoker, it can interfere with blood flow. This can increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel and make the symptoms worse.
- Wear a wrist brace. A wrist brace can help both during the day and at night. It will keep your wrist straight when performing repetitive tasks and also keep it straight while you sleep. Make sure to move your wrist when you take the brace off to keep it strong and flexible, but make sure you dont put too much stress on it.
- Avoid repetitive tasks. This is easier said than done if your job requires repetition. If you can, change hands to give your dominant wrist a break.
What Are The Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Often, the biggest culprit of carpal tunnel syndrome is doing repetitive movements with poor posture. Certain movements, like typing with bent wrists or using a poorly-designed computer mouse, can cause your muscles and tendons to become damaged over time. Lets go over how to type if you have this condition.
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Physical Activity And Exercise
Several studies have shown a reduction in carpal tunnel symptoms when patients were involved in an exercise program, particularly vigorous physical activity. Jogging, swimming, playing sports, biking, even walking around the neighborhood are all physical activities which are good for you, and your carpal tunnel!
Living With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You may decide against having surgery for your carpal tunnel syndrome. If so, here are some things that may help relieve your symptoms.
- Prop up your arm with pillows when you lie down.
- Avoid overusing the affected hand.
- Find a new way to use your hand by using a different tool.
- Try to use the unaffected hand more often.
- Avoid holding your wrists in a downward bent position for long periods of time.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Cts
We all have a tendency to dwell on our symptoms, and to worry. But if you have more than a couple of the below symptoms its time to make changes to your office habits.
- Numbness or tingling in your hands or fingers
- Pain in your hands or wrists
- A loss of strength or coordination in your hands and fingers
- You feel the sensation of pins and needles often in your handsA weak thumb
- A difficulty gripping objects
How Do You Stop Carpal Tunnel From Progressing
Carpal tunnel syndrome may continue to progress over time, but by taking frequent breaks with your hands, and stretching your hands, you can alleviate some pressure from your wrists. Be sure to avoid sleeping in positions that may bend your wrists or curl them in an awkward position. By sleeping with a splint, or even wearing a splint during the day, you are maintaining a neutral position with your wrists for an extended period of time. This neutral wrist position will help the nerves freely flow through the carpal tunnel, so the pain does not progress. An exercise to prevent carpal tunnel symptoms is to rotate your wrists in circles, and flex and extend your palms and fingers. This will help to decrease wrist numbness, tingling, and repetitive stress on your flexor tendons.
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Manage Other Health Conditions
Finally, if you have a health condition that increases your risk of inflammation and carpal tunnel symptoms, get appropriate treatment. Not only will this reduce inflammation in your wrists, but you improve your overall health and lower your risk of other complications.
Carpal tunnel is often manageable with sufficient care and lifestyle modifications. Call us here at Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery or schedule an appointment online to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome treatment.
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Intentional Wrist Exercises And Stretching
If youre starting to feel pain in your wrists, youre already motivated to do everything you can to mitigate it. Gentle exercises are helpful in preventing carpal tunnel and in calming symptoms if you already have them.
Consult the team at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow before you start any exercises. Your therapist advises you which exercises and stretches are beneficial for you and which motions you should avoid.
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Five Ways To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you or someone you know has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, you understand just how debilitating it can be. Constant pain and the inability to perform even the simplest of tasks are just a few of the frustrating symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented or even corrected with behavioral modifications alone. However, for some people with severe or prolonged carpal tunnel syndrome, professional intervention may be needed.
The knowledgeable and experienced team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, led by Dr. Christopher Williams, is dedicated to helping patients identify the underlying cause of their condition and providing advice and/or treatment for quick, long-lasting symptom relief. In addition, Dr. Williams stresses the point of future prevention, helping patients avoid subsequent bouts of carpal tunnel syndrome. To better understand how carpal tunnel can be treated and prevented, it is important to first establish some basic facts about the condition and what may cause it.