What is Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a medical condition, where the median nerve becomes trapped and compressed at the wrist.
The nerve itself originates from the brachial plexus, a bundle of networking nerves, located above the clavicle region on each side of the neck. It’s the only nerve that travels through the carpal tunnel, hence the danger of it being pressed.
People who suffer from CTS will feel the pain systematically to where its present, but over time shooting towards its origin as the syndrome onsets and becomes worse. Therefore, pain in the arm will start traveling upward towards the cervical region.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel
The systematic pain around the wrist will mostly affect the muscular functions closest to the compressed nerve. The first complaint will be numbness and a sharp painful tingling sensation in the thumb, before feeling the same symptoms in the index and middle finger.
There may be a further loss of motor function. Grip strength can be weakened due to the weakened receptors in the hand. You may feel restricted from grabbing something with force. A common indicator of CTS is experiencing extreme pain in the wrist while sleeping, which can often wake you up.
Many office workers, who particularly spend long hours on computers, are diagnosed on a daily basis due to excessive motion or hyperextension that chronically wears down and compress the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. Hyperextension could be a result of poor wrist position when using a mouse, keyboard or typewriter. This is why it is important for all corporate employees to have an ergonomic assessment at their desk, ensuring that their chair, desk, and computer screen are all fitted to not cause stress on the wrists.
Carpal Tunnel syndrome is diagnosed in 27% of Diabetes patients in North America today. The effects of high blood pressure and increase in weight are said to play a role in making the canal for the carpal tunnel more narrow, adding extra compression to the median nerve. Again, office workers should be making sure to bring a packed lunch to work. If not, avoid fast food or any fried food venues situated in the food courts or general area.
The build up of fluid (edema) in the limbs during pregnancy, causes swelling and applies pressure to the wrist.
Thyroid Dysfunction causes fluid to be retained in the connective tissues in the body. The tissue overlying the wrist is affected by this swelling also.
As seen above, the causes of weight and high blood pressure play a major impact in CTS. Addictive habits such as smoking, drinking and eating can contribute significantly in causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoiding stress is the key to this problem. Joining a fitness club after work or taking part in general of activities can save you the boredem of reverting back to bad habits after a long hard day. Keep your circulation healthy.
What can you do?
Improve your work setting
Make sure that your keyboard and chair are aligned properly for good posture and not hyperextending the wrist at all times. Keep your chair higher if possible and keyboard-less inclines. Ask your HR consultants to bring in professionals who can assess the office environment.
Keep healthy weight and blood pressure
Avoiding binge eating, smoking, drinking and other excessive habits.
This can help reduce the compression of the root canal over time, keeping BP reduced and avoiding the risk of diabetes that contributes to CTS.
Take breaks and practice good posture
Stress will also cause the compression to accelerate in the carpal tunnel. Take breaks, relax the shoulders more and practice good posture. This will also keep the brachial plexus functional and healthy from where it originates to the wrist. Be conscious about sitting correctly at your desk.
Practice your grip
When holding items, try to use your hand opposed to just your fingers. This is important as a lot of the muscles supporting your wrist can become frail and weak.
Use your palm to grip to avoid imbalances. Bring a wrist clencher to work. Practice using it in short intervals throughout the day if typing for long hours without stoppage.
Weight training and exercise
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will develop in the wrist, and its primary symptoms offsetting from where the problem is localized. However, training the muscles from the upper traps/ cervical region to the hands will ensure that the muscles will stay strong, loosed and well balanced, helping the nerves travel well from the brachial plexus. This way the median nerve can operate healthy from its origin to the wrist. Cardiovascular exercise will keep your weight down also and be beneficial for avoiding CTS. Consult a personal trainer about an appropriate program suited to your state of current health.
Don’t promote a thyroid condition
- Reduce Smoking
- Increase Selenium Levels In Your Diet
- Don’t overuse fluorides (Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Antiseptic)
- Don’t over consume Soy products
- Go Exercise
Your House Fitness are a team of in-home personal trainers who come directly to you, whether it’s at your home, condominium, outdoor or a designated gym, they get the right trainer for you. All personal trainers at Your House Fitness are certified across Canada and possess a variety of academic backgrounds including Fitness and Health Promotion and Kinesiology.