Carpal tunnel syndrome affects millions of Americans each year, yet we have still to determine what precisely the cause is. Likely, a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors are to blame. However, the risk factors are so diverse and general that we all have one or more of them at some point in our lives.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness, stiffness, and pain in the fingers and hand. There is no known way to completely prevent carpal tunnel, but some exercises can lower your chances of developing it and needing surgery for treatment. Most doctors for problems like carpal tunnel recommend stretches to be done throughout the day.
We have selected 3 basic moves that you can do at any point during the day, preferably the rest periods in the middle of any long-lasting manual labor, or just in-between tasks in the office. These stretches and exercises are simple and don’t 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.
1. Prayer Stretch: start with your palms together in front of your chest, just below your chin. Press the palms against each other and start lowering the hands slowly towards the abdomen. Hold for at least 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-4 times.
2. Wrist Flexor Stretch: Extend your arm in front of you with the palm facing upwards. Using your other hand, start bending the wrist, pointing your hand towards the floor. Gently bend your arm further until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm. Hold for at least 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-4 times.
3. Wrist Extensor Stretch: Extend your arm in front of you with the palm facing downwards. Using your other hand, start bending the wrist, pointing your hand towards the floor. Again, gently bend the wrist until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm. Hold for at least 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-4 times.
Prompt treatment may help you relieve symptoms and keep the syndrome for getting worse. Other treatments for carpal tunnel beside the exercise include:
- applying cold packs;
- taking frequent breaks;
- splinting your wrist at night;
- corticosteroid injections.
Please contact your doctor if you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome. If you don’t respond to the treatments above, your doctor may recommend surgery.