Texting and typing, gripping tools or barbells, and any other repetitive motion using your fingers and hands can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome — that painful restricting condition you hear so much about. Taking proactive measures now can save you from surgery in the future.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.
The carpal tunnel — a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand — houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm — not fun when you rely on your hands to do your job.
Here are some ways to reduce symptoms and alleviate mild carpal tunnel pain:
Braces and splints can be worn during work, or whatever activity aggravates your symptoms.
Take an over-the-counter medication anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen.
Modify the activity that aggravates your symptoms. For instance, if typing causes pain, fix your hand positioning.
Take brief rest periods throughout the day.
Be sure to stretch before the activity.
Watch this video by muscle building coach Lee Hayward to alleviate mild carpal tunnel symptoms:
Sparkpeople.com offers the following stretch you can do before, during and after activity:
Stand up straight and extend both arms straight out in front of you.
Extend your wrists and fingers acutely as if they were giving a "stop" signal. Hold this position for five seconds.
Now straighten your wrists while relaxing your fingers.
Keeping your wrists straight, make a fist and squeeze it tightly. Hold for five seconds.
Keeping your fists clenched, bend your wrists down. Hold this position for five seconds.
Straighten both wrists and relax your fingers again.
Repeat this series five to 10 times; then relax your arms by your sides.
If stretches and exercises do not work, talk to your doctor because you may need surgery.