You’re working behind your computer and notice the numbness or tingling in your hand and wrist. Sometimes you feel a sharp piercing pain shooting through your wrist and up your arm. Are these just passing pains or is it possible that you have carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can develop when the median nerve, which runs from your forearm into your wrist, is pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The median nerve controls both the sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (except for the little finger) and impulses to some of the small muscles in the hand, those that allow your fingers and thumb to move.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand that holds the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, irritated tendons or other swelling narrow the tunnel and compress the median nerve. This abnormal pressure on the nerve can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand.
Such painful sensations may be a sign of other conditions, although carpal tunnel syndrome is the most commonly known entrapment neuropathies in which peripheral nerves are compressed or traumatized.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually start gradually, and often first in one or both hands during the night.
Whether your hand and wrist pain is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome or is simply a result of too much time spent on a computer, stretches can help.
3 Stretches for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
1. Finger Milking
Repetitions:10 for each hand
Sit in a chair with your elbows bent and your forearms supported and use the fingers of your opposite hand to “milk” your fingers individually, gently squeezing and pulling them with your thumb and index finger starting at the tip and going to the base.
2. Stretching Wrist Flexors
Repetitions: 3 on each side, hold each stretch for 30 seconds
Hold the palm of one hand with the other hand while keeping your elbow straight on the affected arm and pull your hand back gently to feel a stretch in the forearm.
3. Median Nerve Mobilization
Repetition: 3 on each side, hold each stretch for 10 seconds
Stand with the right side of your body about an arm’s length away from a wall, place your right hand on the wall, at shoulder height, with your fingers pointing upwards and towards your body keeping your elbow bent. Side bend your head, moving your ear towards the left shoulder, and straighten your elbow slowly until a gentle stretching sensation is felt. Return to the initial position and repeat.
Do check with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure you should be doing these exercises. If your symptoms are severe or have been present for several weeks, also consult with your doctor.