Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that is named for the area it affects. The carpal tunnel is a small passageway for nerves and tendons in the wrist. When the median nerve becomes compressed in that narrow passageway, carpal tunnel syndrome results.
If you’re experiencing numbness and tingling in the hand – especially in the thumb or fingers – there’s a good chance you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms don’t affect the pinky (littlest) finger because that finger is controlled by a different nerve. A telling symptom, and one that becomes evident as symptoms worsen, is the inability to grip objects. A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may find it difficult to grip a pencil, pen, or eating utensil.
Treatment is critical because carpal tunnel syndrome won’t get better on its own, although symptoms may improve with immobilization, such as when a splint is worn on the wrist. The condition worsens over time and can cause permanent damage if not attended to by a medical professional.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Preventing carpal tunnel may be difficult, but there are a few things you can do to ward it off, if you’ve caught it early.
- Don’t Overload Your Wrists. Placing pressure on the wrist will exacerbate the problem. Distribute weight and pressure throughout the hand – don’t allow your wrist to bear the brunt of it.
- Exercise can reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Stretching exercises can help strengthen your hand and wrist muscles. Just taking five minutes per day to stretch can increase muscle strength in your hands and wrists. The optimal time to exercise your hands is prior to actions that require repetitive motion.
- When working on a task that requires hand and wrist involvement, remember to be careful of your position and form. Just as you’d concentrate on good posture to protect your back, do the same for your hands. When holding items, relax your grip and keep your wrist straight.
Technological advances have introduced more posture-related challenges. If you spend all day working on computers or using other devices that require long periods of slouching or bending the head or neck at odd angles, it can ultimately result in compression of the median nerve. You can help avoid carpal tunnel syndrome by improving your posture.
The pain and discomfort that occurs due to carpal tunnel syndrome should be addressed by a physical therapist who is educated regarding the nerves and muscles of the neck, arm, wrists, and hands. Your physical therapist can provide wrist exercises to help you avoid the onslaught of carpal tunnel syndrome before it progresses, causing significant pain.
Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness is here to help you reach your goals without pain. Download a physician referral form from our website, and speak with your physician about the possibility of living without pain and limitations. Then call us in Austin, Texas, at (512) 284-7192 (our main office on La Posada Drive) or (512) 467-4546 on Ranch Road) to schedule your appointment.