What is a Carpal tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is the passage between the wrist and hand, which comprises ligaments, tendons, bones, blood vessels, and nerves. The median nerve goes through this passage, from the forearm to the hand. The nerve brings about an immense sensation to our fingers, including our thumb. Immense pressure on the wrist may squeeze the median nerve. This phenomenon develops due to wrist injury, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, repetitive movements of hands.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reviewed that people who have diabetes have a higher chance of Carpal tunnel syndrome. They also stated that females are three times more prone to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than males.
Exercises & stretches
There are different kinds of stretches and exercises are available intended to help relieve the symptoms of Carpal tunnel. The below-mentioned exercise generally alleviates the wrist pain along with time. However, if you feel severe pain, immediately stop doing them. Apply heat to your hands 15 minutes before performing these exercises. After completing all of the activities, apply an ice pack to your hand for 20 minutes to avoid inflammation.
This exercise improves the strength of the muscles of the inner forearm.
- Hold your one arm straight out in front of your body at shoulder height
- Don’t lock the elbow while stretching the arm out
- Bend the wrist back and make a “ stop” sign
- Then use the opposite hand to gradually pull the palm back towards your body to experience stretching in the inner forearm
- Hold the position for 15 seconds
- Release, then continue this process five times
- Repeat the complete exercise with another arm
Patients have to repeat this exercise four times per day, 5-7 days per week. It is a good warm-up stretching exercise before starting another wrist exercise that involves gripping.
Wrist Flexion stretches the muscles in the outer forearm.
- Stretch one arm in front of the body at your shoulder height
- Do not lock the elbow while stretching the arm out
- Keep both of your palms facing down, bend the wrist, and fingers direct toward the floor
- Use another hand, gently pull the bent hand towards your body to experience a stretch in the outer forearm
- Hold this position for 15 seconds
- Release and repeat for 5 minutes
- Repeat this exercise with another arm again
Individuals can rehash this grouping up to four times each day, 5–7 days out of every week. An individual can likewise utilize it as a warm-up stretch before performing different exercises, particularly any activity that includes grasping.
Median Nerve Glide
A glide is a hand stretching exercise to improve the movement of a compressed nerve, such as the median nerve.
- Create a fist with one hand and keep the thumb outside
- Uncurl the fingers, stretch fingers and thumb out straight & keep the thumb pressed to the side of the hand
- Then gradually bend back towards the forearm, Next extend the thumb out to the side
- Then use the opposite hand, apply light pressure on the thumb to stretch it
- Hold each position for 3-7 seconds
- Release and repeat the entire exercise with another hand
Individuals can rehash this activity 10–15 times each day, 6–7 days of the week.
Holding a cold compress, for example, an ice pack in a wrapped towel or a sack of frozen peas, on the hand for 20 minutes later, the exercise might assist with preventing swelling.
This exercise gradually stretches the tendons in the carpal tunnel. Scientific study shows that using a splint and doing tendon & nerve glide stretches heals carpal tunnel syndrome more quickly than using a splint alone. The patient should repeat these exercises with both hands at the same time or can perform alternatively with each hand:
- Bend down the elbow so that the forearm gets straight up
- Then straighten the fingers and thumb out in the line along with the wrist so that all of your fingers are pointing straight up.
- Then bend the top of the fingers to create a hook shape.
- Then bend all fingers into a tight fist with the thumb on the top of the fingers.
- Hold each of these positions for at least 3 seconds.
This exercise works on the forearm muscles. People will need to have a soft rubber ball for hand squeeze exercise and a pair of rolled-up socks.
- Hold the squeeze ball in one hand
- Squeeze it for 5 seconds and then release
- Repeat 10-12 times
- Perform three sets of reps and then perform it with another hand
These are some easy exercises recommended by a certified hand therapist to the patients after Carpal tunnel surgery. They have to dedicate some time of their day to speed up the healing process. However, if they experience pain after doing these, stop them immediately and consult with the orthopedic expert. But in 80% of cases, Hand therapy proved to be an effective rehabilitation method.