Carpal tunnel syndrome – Everything you want to know.
The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist where the flexor tendons pass through to reach the fingers. The Median nerve also goes through this canal, when swelling or tendon thickening occurs the median nerve gets compressed. When this compression occurs you are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
While compression of the median nerve causes the symptoms the root of the problem usually lies elsewhere:
Ligaments, tendons and muscles may thicken. These are the most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. Thickening is usually due to wear and tear from repetitive stress and injury.
Pregnancy is another common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. During pregnancy, a woman’s body needs extra blood and fluid to allow the baby to grow and the woman’s body to expand. But this also commonly lead to swelling in the carpal tunnel causing compression of the nerve inside.
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, fractures and other metabolic disorder lead also commonly cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Typical symptoms carpal tunnel syndromes:
• Numbness and pain in your hand and wrist. This pain can often spread to the forearm and upper arm.
• A tingling sensation in the hand.
• Weakness and a loss of mobility. You may find it difficult to grip things.
Why does the median nerve get compressed within the carpal tunnel?
The space within the carpal tunnel is fix and cannot expand while the others structures within the “tunnel” can expand. Nerves are much softer than most of the other tissues of the human body, so when the other tissues within the carpal tunnel get bigger the median never gets compressed. On top of the compression, when a nerve gets compressed they thicken and get inflamed, thus leading to more pain and compression.
Hydrotherapy can do wonder to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel symptoms:
– Plunge your hand is cold/ice cold water to up to 10 minutes.
– Place a cold pack over your wrist for 6-7 minutes.
Exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
Gently, stretch and exercise your wrists regularly. This will help increase blood flow and encourage healing. Below you can find some basic exercise that may help you manage your symptoms.
If the movements you are doing are too painful stop doing them as it may worsen the problem.
1. Wrist Stretch
Stretch your arm out in front of you, with your wrist straight. Gently bend your hand down and backward, using the opposite hand to pull your hand back. Hold for 10 seconds or more.
Return your hand to the starting position and then bend it up and backward, again using the opposite hand to pull your fingers back. Hold for 10 seconds or more.
Repeat both of these exercises on the other hand. Do three sets with each wrist.
2. Finger Stretch
Place your palm on the table and lift your fingers up. Place your other hand across your knuckles at 90º and push down as your bottom hand tries to pull up. Hold for 20 seconds. Swap hands and repeat.
3. Grip Strengthening
Grip a soft stress ball and squeeze it is a slow and controlled way repeat several times.
Be mindful with exercising your wrist while in acute pain, while the right amount and intensity of exercise will speed and support your recovery too much exercise may worsen the problem.