Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of pressure on the median nerve that runs between your forearm and hand via the narrow carpal tunnel in the wrist. When this nerve becomes pinched for some reason, patients will suffer neuropathy, causing numbness and weakness in the hand, specifically the thumb and the first three fingers (not the pinky).
There are a variety of potential causes for the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as genetic predisposition, physical characteristics, injury, illness, swelling, repetitive motion, and even temporary factors like pregnancy. As any functional neurology specialist can tell you, however, the outcome is the same: reduced use of your hand due to pain, weakness, and numbness.
While carpal tunnel syndrome may not be entirely preventable per se, understanding the causes can help you to minimize contributing factors. This is especially true if your family’s medical history puts you at greater risk. Here are a few strategies to reduce your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Avoid Harmful Activities
Certain activities, especially those that involve repetitive motion, are more likely to speed the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors and alternative health care providers alike are most likely familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome related to common activities like typing and using a mouse, playing musical instruments, and playing sports, just for example.
If you are unable to avoid activities that increase your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, at least take steps to reduce the effects. Take more frequent breaks to give your hands, arms, and wrists a rest. You should also pay attention to your posture and try not to stress your wrists.
For example, you could use an ergonomic chair, keyboard, and even desk if you spend several hours a day at your computer for work. If you write manually quite a bit, you can find large-grip pens that allow for a softer grip and less pressure on your fingers and wrist. Such adjustments could definitely help to protect your median nerve.
Stretch and Strengthen
Adding stretching and strengthening exercises to your daily routine can help to reduce the effects of repetitive motion and reduce swelling and pressure on your median nerve. One easy example is simply shaking out your hands throughout the day.
You can also try tenting your fingers and spreading them apart as you push your fingers into a steeple position, repeating the motion several times to stretch the fingers. To stretch wrists, you can extend one arm straight in front of you, palm down, and pull fingers down and in before flipping to palm-up position and then pulling the fingers down and back.
Speak with a Qualified Professional
You should approach your chiropractor if you fear you’re at risk for the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome or if you’re already developing symptoms. A chiropractic professional can help to diagnose, treat, and to a degree, even prevent the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.