It begins with a tingling in one of your fingers or your thumb. Maybe you start to drop things more often or experience discomfort in your wrists or arms while you’re driving or holding the phone. These are all symptoms of what is known as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), commonly referred to as carpal tunnel. We’ve all heard of someone who has carpal tunnel, but what does that really mean?
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? CTS is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, or an electric shock feeling in the fingers, hand, or arm. It’s caused by the entrapment or compression of a nerve inside of the carpal tunnel, which is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist that nerves run through. The known causes of CTS are repeated movements of the wrists. Risk factors include a job that requires a lot of manual labor, pressure on the wrists while exercising (i.e. push-ups and weightlifting), obesity, diabetes, pregnancy, and hypothyroidism. In short, almost anyone could end up with CTS.
Good news, though! There’s a simple, at-home solution that can help relieve the pain associated with CTS. I’ve found that the following stretches help my patients exhibiting symptoms of carpal tunnel nerve compression, taking pressure off the median nerve and “resetting” the wrist, so to speak.
Wrist Pulls. This is a simple exercise that you can do while either sitting either or standing. While resting the palm side of the forearm on the affected side against your abdomen, place the palm of the opposite hand on the back of the hand and grasp firmly. Next, pull out on your wrist while flexing the palm down. You may or may not hear a “pop” while doing this. Regardless, your pain and numbness should decrease after performing this stretch. You can do this as often as you need to lessen pain or discomfort throughout the day.
Everyday Tips for CTS. Here are a few more tips to avoid irritating CTS symptoms or recompressing your nerves.
- Remember to always keep your wrists straight when lifting and pushing.
- Do push-ups with weights or on your fists.
- Avoid extreme dorsiflexion extension of the wrist when pushing and lifting.
CTS is a common condition, but it’s not usually necessary to have surgery. Before you consider surgery, try these at-home treatments and set-up a consultation with me to discuss more conservative treatment options.
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