Mild or severe, having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) can be a pain. In fact, studies are finding CTS doesn’t just affect an individual; it's an economic issue. Employers are noticing a decrease in productivity and increase risk of dropping heavy objects because of difficulties grasping and holding. The U.S. Department of Labor says it’s the cause of nearly half of all missed work time.
So what is CTS and how do you prevent it? The syndrome is characterized by numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness of the hand. Typically it affects the thumb, index, and middle fingers and is often particularly bothersome at night. A major nerve, the median nerve, travels down the arm and enters the hand through the carpal tunnel, which is located in the central part of the wrist. For people with CTS, the pressure in the tunnel is higher than in unaffected people, which causes the median nerve to be irritated. Certain conditions can cause an increase in this pressure.
For those who don’t have any of the above conditions, positions of extreme wrist flexion and extension are known to increase pressures within the carpal canal. Repetitive movements (assembly line, computer/mouse work) can also lead to CTS.
Keeping your wrists “open” is a great way to prevent CTS. During the day, give you hands a break. Stretch your fingers; circle your wrists; shake your hands in the air. Stretching your forearms routinely will also help.
If you want more information about Carpal Tunnel or more exercises, come by and see us!