Carpal Tunnel Prevention

Written by: Kayte Corrigan

The wrist is one of the most delicate joints, and at the same time, one of the most useful. Often in the shadows of our opposable thumb, the wrist is an integral part of human dexterity. Long-term ailments may take years to develop, but very difficult or impossible to reverse. Even if you are not currently in pain, practicing prevention could make all the difference.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand or wrist like typing, sewing, painting, or playing certain instruments or sports. CTS is pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The median nerve supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. The area where this nerve enters the wrist is called the carpal tunnel and is very narrow. Any swelling can pinch the nerve leading to tingling, numbness and weakness in the hand or fingers, specifically the thumb and first two.

For prevention, it is important to take frequent mini-breaks from repetitive wrist movement. A three-minute stretch or wrist exercise session can make the difference in wellbeing and productivity. Good posture when executing the trigger movement is very important, particularly for computer users. Keeping the torso and shoulders in a neutral alignment on the spine with your elbows bent at 90 degrees or greater is ideal. Striving for a neutral position in the wrist is also effective. The repetitive up and down flexion and extension compresses the carpal tunnel inside the wrist, which causes pain and injuries like CTS. If you feel your forearms starting to sag, take a break before you feel it in your wrists.

With so much of our modern communication executed through keyboards and touchscreens the prevention and treatment of CTS becomes as paramount as practicing good posture.

For more on correct positioning while working at a computer:

http://www.healthycomputing.com/office/setup/keyboard/

For correct wrist placement while practicing Pilates:

http://highintensitypilates.tumblr.com/post/29825534423/pilates-mind-body-wrist-placement

Check out this great chart with wonderful exercises for carpal tunnel: http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/how_can_carpal_tunnel_syndrome_be_prevented_000034_6.htm#ixzz25HaIJ8n3