Common Conditions: Carpal Tunnel

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Hands showing the pain of carpal tunnel

You’re at your desk at 3:00 pm on a busy afternoon, and try as you might, you just can’t ignore the tingling in your hands and wrists. You shake out your hands, open and close your fists a few times, but nothing seems to help. 

Sound like you? Well, you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: a condition caused by compression of the median nerve in your wrist.

Your wrist is made up of 8 carpal bones which allow it to move and bend for daily activities. Lying on top of these bones on the palm side of your hand is a fibrous band (called the flexor retinaculum). These structures form the carpal tunnel, and allow several tendons and one nerve to pass through it from your arm to your hand. But, like any tunnel, there’s only so much space within it. If these tendons get irritated from daily, often repetitive activities, they can swell and leave less space for the nerve to travel.

The result? Numbness or tingling – even pain – in your wrist and hands.

The symptoms can also be caused by flexing or extending your wrists for long periods (such as curling your arms inward as you sleep), or even simply by one of those carpal bones being misaligned within your wrist.

But no matter the cause, it’s never any fun to experience. 
Here are some tips to relieve your symptoms:

  • Take breaks often if you sit at a desk all day
  • Make sure your office desk is set up in ergonomically (hint: Your chiropractor can help with this!)
  • Do wrist and arm stretches often to relieve and relax tight muscles and prevent tendons from swelling
  • Wear a wrist splint at night to prevent excessive flexion of the wrist
  • When performing repetitive activities, switch hands or body position to alter your body mechanics
  • See a chiropractor!

Even though your symptoms may be very infrequent now, it is important to get them taken care of as early as possible to prevent permanent damage to the median nerve. In some cases, surgery may need to be done to free up more space for the nerve to pass through, but the sooner a diagnosis can be made, the better the outcome.

Questions? You know where to ask them!

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