Carpal tunnel exercise
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hand and the wrist.
It can result from injury to the wrist as well as by diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disease. Repetitive motion is also a risk factor. Examples include computer users, supermarket check out personnel, heavy equipment operators who use vibration inducing tools, violinists, golfers, meat packers, assembly line workers, hair stylists and mechanics since they perform the same hand movements repeatedly.
CTS leads to difficulty in performing daily tasks such as fastening buttons, turning keys and unscrewing bottle tops. Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from CTS. Gender differences exist with women approximately three times moire likely to suffer from CTS compared to men.
The carpal tunnel is a, well, tunnel, located in the palm side of the wrist. The bones of the wrist are arranged in a semi-circle and a tough ligament called the transverse carpal ligament forms a roof, creating a passageway known as the carpal tunnel. Tendons and the median nerve run through the carpal tunnel. CTS results when the tunnel walls are compressed,
Symptoms of this condition consist of frequent burning, tingling, pins and needles or itching and numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. Sometimes, these symptoms spread to the arm and shoulder. Symptoms are often worse at night or first thing in the morning. That is because many people sleep with flexed wrists.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect one or both hands and symptoms can vary. The hand muscles may become weak, making it difficult to grasp objects. If left untreated, muscles will atrophy. CTS can also result in permanent loss of feeling. Fine finger movements, such as writing, may become increasingly difficult.
Carpal tunnel exercises should be done at the start of each workday and during breaks. The exercises reduce pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. A few important exercises for ameliorating carpal tunnel syndrome are discussed below:
• Extend and stretch both wrists and fingers in a dorsi-flexed position (the back of the hands directly facing you as if they are in a hand-stand position.) Hold for a count of 5.
• Straighten both wrists and relax the fingers.
• Make a tight fist with both hands.
• Then bend both wrists down (palmar-flex so the fingertips are pointing towards the floor and the palms are facing you)) while maintaining a fist. Hold for a count of 5.
• Straighten both wrists and relax fingers, for a count of 5.
The exercise should be repeated 10 times. Then let the arms hang loosely at the side and shake them for a few seconds.
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