Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tips for Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

Carpal tunnel triggered by repetitive movements of the hand and wrist.  It can just affect fingers and wrist or can extend up the arm and involve the elbow and shoulder.    It used to occur in mature individuals as the result of long term wear and tear. Now it is becoming quite common among people in their 30s or 40s or even younger!  Why?  Texting, gaming, typing.  

All experts agree prevention is the best treatment. CTS can cause pain, tingling, electrical sparking and achy wrists, elbows or shoulders.  It can also cause you to miss work - ie. hurt and loose money.  
If you are a business owner, staff policies that address CTS can reduce absenteeism.  Its no fun for anyone, employee, employer or the person in business for themselves.  CTS can also affect hobbies like knitting, crocheting, canning and food preparation.

Someone told me that theirs wasn't that bad and they just ignore it.  The longer it goes untreated the higher the risk of permanent nerve damage. Never a good thing.

There are several things you can do to prevent CTS.  If you do work that involves repetitive motion, take frequent breaks. Shake your hands, flex them, stretch the fingers - give them a break.  If you need to keep working alternate activities to give your hands a break.  Keep your wrist in a neutral position.  Try to avoid a bent wrist position for long periods.  A neutral - straight wrist position is much easier on your wrist.  What does that mean?  A bent wrist has the thumb pointing upwards, like you were going to cast a fishing line.  A straight wrist has the thumb pointing straight ahead - like the line had already been cast.  The direction the thumb is pointing is key to whether it is neutral or bent.

Grip is another key.  Tight gripping is stressful to the wrist. Gripping, grasping or lifting with the thumb and index finger put stress on your wrist. When you can, grip with your whole hand and all your fingers to grasp. Driving?  Pay attention to your wrist angles. If you have a long drive ahead, try to change the angle with which you hold the steering wheel often.  When it is safe stretch, flex and shake one hand at a time to rest it.

Repetitions, are a trigger.  Even simple tasks done over and over can cause CTS. Try to reduce repetitive movements. Avoid holding objects in exactly the same way extended periods of time.  Have a big project ahead like peeling lots of potatoes or canning lots of vegetables - share the fun.  Get help to reduce the repetition and it will be more fun.

Think about the force and speed of your movements.  Faster more forceful movements are more irritating to muscles and nerves.  When possible - use a power tool!  Take the manual stress off and let the tool do the job.

Conditioning exercises strengthen your muscles and stretching will relax cramped ones. Shaking, flexing and stretching can all be beneficial. 

Wearing hand braces at night can keep you from curling your wrists into kinked bent positions. This reduced my symptoms by 80%. Note: avoid wearing a wrist brace all the time. This can actually weaken your wrist. Take other measures to correct the problem.

Find a provider of Active Release Technique (ART) in your area.  Mild to severe CTS responds fast to ART therapy.  Quick with NO DOWNTIME. Success has made ART the most requested soft tissue therapy. It stops the damage and allows nerves to heal and regenerate. Either visit the ART website,,  or Google ART providers in your city. They are available wherever you live. 

Happy Healthy Holidays to You and Your Wrists!!!! 

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