My client, Emily, was totally frustrated with her carpal tunnel. She had been wearing a wrist brace for years after enduring 2 carpal tunnel surgeries. She thought that the surgery would fix her hand. Instead, the pain went from her hand to her elbow, which was diagnosed as cubital tunnel syndrome. Again, another surgery followed by a brace, and still there was pain. On her flight to Florida, she grabbed her suitcase and felt immense pain in her neck and shoulders. Her girlfriend referred her to me when she saw Emily in tears,mostly from the frustration and fear of not being able to use her arm.
Emily’s problem started in her hand and is still coming from her hand. Most of us have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome and understand there is a tunnel in our wrist area called the carpal tunnel. We have a total of 26 muscles in our forearms that run from our elbow to our fingers. These muscles allow us to open and close our hand. When we grip things, we are engaging the muscles on the bottom of our forearm which run through our carpal tunnel in our wrist and press on the median nerve which runs right next to these muscles.
Carpal tunnel is usually described as a result of repetitive actions like typing on a computer or cash register. However, it can be caused by gripping a steering wheel too tight, or a gold club or tennis racket. When travelling, gripping the suitcase handle can cause carpal tunnel syndrome as well. Doesn’t it sound ominous, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Surgery does relieve the pain temporarily, however since you use your hands every day it will come back. That is why so many people wear the wrist braces. It is not a strength issue as described by many therapist and trainers. It has more to do with overuse and not knowing how to release the strain from the overuse. Which means once you know how to release the pressure, you can prevent the pain from coming back at all.
I n your forearm there are 26 muscles and 2 bones that run from your elbow to your wrist. From the wrist, there 5 muscles that continue through the carpal tunnel on the bottom of the wrist to each of your fingers. In that tunnel lays the median nerve and when pressure is applied to the nerve by the muscles,pain occurs in your hand and fingers. so how do you fix it?
Using your opposite hand, apply a little pressure to your forearm and feel for sore spots. Don’t squeeze hard thinking you are going to force it out. You will only make it worse. Apply just enough pressure to feel the sore spots. When you find one, it may hurt a lot at the beginning, if so, lighten the pressure a little, breathe out, and allow your brain to relax the muscle. Do this all over your forearm until the muscles feel softer than cotton candy. No matter how strong you are, your muscles should feel soft for more freedom of movement.
Next , make a light fist with the painful hand, bending at the elbow. Place the opposite hand over your fist and gently press down. Again, you are not going to force it down and if you try, you may make the pain worse. It is not, no pain, no gain here! Hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Breathe out each time and allow your brain the chance to relax the muscles. Finally, stand next to a table and place your painful hand palm down with the fingers pointing behind you. Gently lean into the wrist and feel the muscles in your forearm stretch. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. You can do this 3-5 times a day. It will only take a few minutes each time, but it will keep it away.
We cannot stop doing everything we need to do to survive or have fun. Wearing a brace may stop the pain today, but it will cause the muscles to weaken and increase the pain later which will result in multiple surgeries. Who has time for that? Emily’s wrist pain stopped within 5 days and she has been pain free for the last 2 years without the brace. In fact she donated the brace to a friend.
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