By Megan Thole
What symptoms would I experience?
Numbness, tingling, pain.
Or dull ache, generally in both hands or wrists
Discomfort may present itself in forearm and upper arm.
In severe cases your hand will display clumsiness or weakness.
When & why does carpal tunnel syndrome occur?
Symptoms generally begin in the second half of pregnancy when water retention increases. Symptoms usually subside after you give birth and once the fluid retention subsides.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow bony tunnel that runs in between the little carpal bones of the wrist. When fluid retention is high, this space is put under a significant amount of pressure. This pressure can cause a compression of the median nerve, which runs through this space. The median nerve supplies sensation to the index, middle & part of the ring finger. Symptoms will be experienced in these areas when compression of this nerve occurs, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.
How do I manage carpal tunnel syndrome?
- Avoid activities/postures that aggravate symptoms
- Address ergonomics at work and home. For example, ensure that your chair height is correct for your desk, so that your wrists are not bent downwards when typing.
- Take frequent breaks from repetitive actions such as typing or leaning on your wrists
- You can put a brace on your wrist to support it in a neutral position in order to take pressure off the nerve when symptoms are severe
- Upper body & core strengthening exercises can take pressure off the wrists by giving your body the ability to maintain a good posture while working and sleeping
- Do not sleep on your hands, especially with them bent
Methods to help treat symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
- Massage your one wrist with the other hand to encourage circulation and reduce fluid build up
- Ice the affected area
- Do gentle arm and hand stretches and exercises…gentle & constructive movement is always favourable
Examples of stretches & exercises:
1. Wrist Extension Stretch Hold your left hand out in front of you, wrist up, palm facing out. With your right hand, gently press against your left fingers, pushing them back toward your chest.
Stop when you feel tension (but not pain) and hold for 15–20 seconds. Repeat twice on each hand.
2. Wrist Flexion Stretch Hold your left hand up with your palm facing you. Place your right hand on the backs of your left fingers and gently push your fingers forward, toward your forearm. Stop when you feel tension; hold for 15–20 seconds. Repeat twice on each hand.
3. Wrist Rotation Hold both hands out in front of you, palms facing each other, elbows bent and upper arms by your sides. Rotate hands upward 15 times, and then downward 15 times. Ensure that the rotation is coming from the wrists, not the shoulders. When this is no longer challenging, do the same exercise while holding a 1kg dumbbell in each hand.
If the symptoms are constant or severe, consult your medical practitioner.