Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder that affects the hands and wrists, which can be quite painful. The carpal tunnel is a passageway at the base of the hands or the wrists, made up of bones and ligaments, through which the median nerve passes. The median nerve is what provides feeling to the thumb, the index finger, the middle finger, and the ring finger. When pressure is applied on the median nerve due to inflammation or swelling of the tendons and ligaments in the carpal tunnel, it results in weakness, tingling, numbness or pain in the fingers and hands.
What are the causes of Carpal tunnel syndrome?
Doing repetitive movements with the hands can result in bringing on this disorder. It occurs more commonly amongst those whose job necessitates them having to grip or use their hands with the wrist in a bent position. For example, some of the people susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome are: mechanics, musicians, meat packers, assembly-line workers, grocery checkers, carpenters, and of course those who use the computer for long periods of time. This syndrome can also be brought on by hobbies like canoeing, golfing, needlework, and gardening.
Symptoms may also be caused by other factors such as the wrist being injured, or affected by diseases like thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes. It also occurs sometimes in the last months of pregnancy.
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers and hands, particularly the thumb, the index finger, and the middle finger.
- Pain in the forearm, palm, or wrist.
- Increased numbness felt during the night compared to the day time. In fact, the pain could be so intense, that it could wake you up. You may find yourself rubbing or shaking your hand in order to alleviate the pain.
- Increased pain on using the wrist or hand more.
- Weakness in the thumb.
- Difficulty in gripping things.
Yoga exercises for Carpal tunnel syndrome
Some preventive measures for Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Forearm Wrist Twist: This exercise begins by placing the right arm against a wall. Make sure that your fingers are spread equally. Extend your elbow and press the palm completely against the wall. Wait for a few breaths and then move your head towards the left. Hold for a minute.
- Extended Full Body Stretch: Take both the arms with palms facing down to the sides and raise them till shoulder level. Extend your fingers. While exhaling, rotate the shoulders in such a way that the palms face up. On the next exhale, bring both the arms overhead. Make sure that the elbows are stretched and palms face each other. Press your feet into the floor and stretch the side torso. After a few breaths, interlock your fingers. Stretch the fingers and press the palm towards the ceiling. Hold this stretch and then bend to one side. Bend to the other side while holding this stretch. This exercise can also be performed when seated in your office chair. If you are doing this exercise in a sitting position, then ensure that you press your thigh bones into the chair, while stretching up.
- Opening the Chest: Take your arms behind your back and interlock your fingers with the palms facing the torso. Now roll the shoulders in the backward direction, but ensure that the ribs are not poking forward. Stretch your elbows while exhaling and let it remain in that position for a few breaths. On the next exhale, bend your elbows and then slowly bring your wrists to your waist. Now gently press the elbow of your right hand towards the left.
- If your job requires performing the same tasks over and over with your hands, try not bending, twisting or extending your hands for extended periods of time.
- Avoid resting your wrists on surfaces that are hard for extended periods of time.
- While working, see that your arms are not too far away or too close to your body.
- While performing tasks, keep switching hands.
- Taking breaks regularly from repetitive hand movements is a good way to give your wrists and hands time to rest.
- Ensure that the tools you are using are not too large for your hands.
- If you use the keyboard for extended periods of time, make sure to see that your forearms are at the same level as the keyboard, and that you do not need to flex your wrists in order to type.
- If there are any diseases that are causing the syndrome, get it treated.
On the whole, prevention is the key. Moreover, these yoga exercises are simple and practising them everyday will ensure an improvement in your hand strength and a significant reduction in pain.