Pages

Friday, 10 August 2012

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


The carpal tunnel area

Source: dynamicchiropractor.wordpress.com


I
’ve helped a fair number of people with carpal tunnel syndrome.



In particular, I remember two women who were scheduled for surgery. I showed them some stretches, pressure points and massage techniques and after several weeks of performing these techniques on themselves, their wrists were healthy enough for them to cancel surgery.

The following is a brief analysis of the problem. I’ve created a header/text format so it’s easier for you to scan through.


DEFINITION
  
A problem with the median nerve passing through the carpal tunnel of the wrist.


THE CARPAL TUNNEL
  
The carpal tunnel is made up of wrist bones on one side and the transverse carpal ligament on the other. The median nerve and the flexor tendons run through the carpal tunnel.


THE MEDIAN NERVE AND THE FLEXOR TENDON
  
This nerve supplies the thumb and the index, middle and ring fingers.  It also supplies muscles of the thumb that allow it to touch the other fingers, an action that allows you to grasp.

The flexor tendons connect muscles to bones in the hand, allowing us to flex our hands, and especially to grasp objects.




Poor keyboarding habits can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome

Source: erhs.la



HOW THE PROBLEM STARTS
  
The tendons are covered by a slippery material called tenosynovium.  It allows the tendons to glide smoothly while grasping. Due to a variety of reasons - repetitive movements while the wrist is in an awkward position, lifting too much weight, illnesses, fractures, etc. - the tendons or their covering can become irritated or inflamed. The tenosynovium then swells and thickens pressing the soft median nerve against the tougher ligament. Continued pressure can damage the median nerve.



SYMPTOMS

1.  Pain where the nerve runs into the wrist and the hand. 

2.  Pain can also radiate up the arm into the shoulder.

3.  Weakness in the thenar muscle running into the thumb.

4.  Trouble with grasping things. Even simple tasks like holding a coffee mug can pose real problems.

5.  A major sign is waking from sleep with pain and numbness in the hand (except for the little finger in most cases).

Pinch your little finger.  If it’s numb as well, the problem may not be tunnel carpal syndrome.





A basic wrist stretch releases tight flexor muscles

Source: physiomedleaside.ca



STRETCHING

Stretching helps to release pressure in the forearms and the hands which in turn helps relieve pressure inside the wrist.  Stretching also improves circulation which helps with healing.  In some cases, stretching can reduce scar tissue build up.  Stretching is vitally important for the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome.  If your work requires any type of stress on the carpal tunnel area, you should stretch often.  I can’t emphasize that enough.  For full effect, hold a stretch for 20 - 30 seconds.




PRESSURE POINTS

Pressure point massage can help with pain management and healing.  Press or gently massage in small circles, especially at the centre of the wrist crease. I always start off by suggesting 4 easy-to-find-points: H7 at the medial end of the wrist crease; P7, at the very centre of the wrist crease, L9 at the lateral end of the wrist crease; P6, 2 ½ finger widths above P7.

Also, on the back of the arm, you’ll find TW4 at the centre of the dorsal wrist crease and TW5, located 2 ½ finger widths above TW4.

Press or massage for several minutes with deep breathing.




MASSAGE

Massage can definitely help with pain management and healing But beyond that, self-massage is an important way to prevent problems in the wrist.  Make it a regular habit at work.  It only takes a few seconds.  If you do experience carpal tunnel pain, massage above and below the wrist only in the early stages, then advance to the wrist. You don’t want to further irritate the carpal tunnel area.




Source: nicros.com



STRENGTH EXERCISES

Strength exercises are vital if your work involves any type of lifting, sorting, packaging, palletizing, working with tools, highly repetitive tasks, and keyboarding.  Strength and stretching leads to endurance.  Strong forearm and hand muscles help maintain the musculoskeletal structure of the wrist - without resorting to a brace. Strength exercises are a must for prevention and for healing.

Probably the most famous method – and one that I’ve had a lot of success with – is the proverbial can of vegetable soup. Grasp the can with your hand, sit down and lay your forearm along your upper leg. Your hand (and the can) are positioned just beyond your knee. Raise the can by curling your hand back. Your palm faces forward. Count to 3, then lower the can again. Your forearm should stay on your leg. Only your hand moves.

Of course, you can substitute 1 to 3 pound curling weights for the can of soup (as in the photo above). They’re much easier to handle.

In a future post, I’d like to discuss a very effective self-massage for carpal tunnel syndrome.

No comments:

Post a Comment