5 Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
By Jeanne Faulkner
Reviewed by QualityHealth's Medical Advisory Board
If the tingling, aching and numbness of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is getting out of hand, 5 simple exercises might put relief right at your fingertips.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful hand and wrist disorder often caused by repetitive movements like computer keyboarding, assembly line work, gardening or other activities that bend and stress the wrist again and again. The carpal tunnel is a narrow tube-like passage formed by the bones and other tissues of the wrist. It protects the median nerve, which is responsible for moving your thumb and the first three fingers of your hand. carpaltunnel syndrome happens when the tissues surrounding the nerve and carpaltunnel become inflamed. That puts pressure on the median nerve, which makes the hand feel numb, achy or tingly.
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these tips to prevent and relieve carpal tunnel syndrome:
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.
Lose weight if you're overweight.
Get treatment for any disease that may cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you do the same tasks over and over with your hands, try not to bend, extend or twist your hands for long periods of time.
Don't work with your arms too close or too far from your body.
Don't rest your wrists on hard surfaces for long periods of time.
Switch hands during work tasks.
Make sure the tools you use aren't too big for your hands.
Take regular breaks from repeated hand movements to give your hands and wrists time to rest.
Don't sit or stand in the same position all day.
If you use a keyboard a lot, adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard and you don't have to flex your wrists to type.
While some patients with carpaltunnel syndrome require surgery to relieve the pressure on the median nerve, many people find relief by doing exercises to reduce inflammation and strengthen their wrist and hand. Try these five simple exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome:
1. Start with one arm and hand out in front of you, with palms facing in as if you're reaching for something. Bend wrist and keep hand straight. Use other hand to apply gentle pressure as you stretch the tendons in your wrist. Hold for 8-10 seconds.
2. Turn palms facing down. Then, flex hands at wrists they make a "stop" sign. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds. Straighten wrists and relax hands
3. Make a fist, with thumbs covered by fingers. Bend wrists down and hold for 8 to 10 seconds. Flex wrists up and hold for 8 to 10 seconds. You should feel the tendons in your wrist stretch gently.
4. Turn fists so thumbs face up and flex wrists down. Hold.
5. Straighten fingers then bend them at the knuckles closest to the palm. Keeping fingers bent, bend wrists inward and hold for 8 to 10 seconds.
Repeat each exercise 5 times and do them daily.