Nagging wrist pain? Tingling sensation in your fingers? Read on — you may have symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Risk Factors of Carpal Tunnel
The Carpal Tunnel is a passageway in the wrist that houses several tendons and one nerve, which run from the forearm to the hand. Excessive pressure on the contents of this tunnel can result in wrist pain, tingling and/or numbness of the fingers and hand and loss of grip strength — all hallmarks of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Occupational tasks such as typing, hammering and assembly line work as well as certain recreational activities including painting, gardening and sewing can place excessive stress on the carpal tunnel and may increase the risk for developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Pregnancy, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis are also risk factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which affects approximately 5% of the US population and is more common in women than men.
Treating Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Physical therapists use a variety of interventions to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Delivery of corticosteroids to the affected area using ultrasound or electricity can help to decrease pain and inflammation. Nerve and tendon gliding exercises are often prescribed to counter entrapment within the Carpal Tunnel.
Once symptoms subside, strengthening exercises can then begin for the forearm, wrist and hand to restore normal function. Perhaps most importantly, the physical therapist can identify and correct poor work station arrangements and improper body mechanics to decrease excessive wrist strain and prevent future episodes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from developing.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you work in a profession that may put you at risk for developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, reduce your risk by following the six steps below:
- Relaxing Your Grip. When writing, we often grip the pen/pencil we are using too tightly, causing unnecessary strain — relax your grip, and use pens/pencils that have a comfortable soft grip.
- Stay warm. Stiffness is more likely to develop if you’re cold — if you can’t control the temperature at work, try wearing fingerless gloves to stay warm.
- Reducing Force. We’ve all shared a work space with someone who slams the keys on their keyboard — type softly, reducing excess force.
- Improve your posture. Sitting up straight and keeping your shoulders back will prevent compression in your upper body.
- Frequent breaks. Stretch and bend your wrists often, taking time to switch tasks giving your hands and wrists a break. This is especially important for manual labor that may involve power tools that shake/vibrate.
- Watch your form. Relax the wrists and use ergonomic supports for your wrists when typing. Make sure your desk is at the right height for you.
Dynamic Physical Therapy
At Dynamic Physical Therapy, we utilize a combination of hands-on techniques and therapeutic exercise in a patient-centered environment to truly generate Health In Motion. If you think you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, contact us today to schedule an appointment: