Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a medical condition in which the median nerve is compressed at the wrist, leading to pain, paresthesias, and muscle weakness in the forearm and hand. A form of compressive neuropathy, CTS is more common in women than it is in men, and, though it can occur at any age, has a peak incidence around age 42. The lifetime risk for CTS is around 10% of the adult population.
CTS is usually caused by forceful and repetitive use of the wrist and hands. Numbness of the hands has also been linked to later stages of pregnancy, diabetes and other pathologies which affect peripheral nerves. Causes of CTSby repetitive stress are best treated by eliminating the stressful activity or by taking more frequent rest. It has been shown taking multiple mini breaks during the repetitive activity is more effective than taking occasional longer breaks. A common culprit is long periods of computer use. There are computer applications that aid users in taking breaks. Before investing in these types of programs, best consult with a health practitioner to determine the true cause of the hand/wrist numbness.
It is also important that one’s body be aligned properly with the keyboard. This is most easily accomplished by bending ones elbows to a 90 degree angle and making sure the keyboard is at the same height as the elbows. Also it is important not to put physical stress on the wrists by hanging the wrist on the edge of a desk, or exposing the wrists to strong vibrations (e.g. manual lawn mowing). Position the computer monitor directly in front of your seat, so the neck is not twisted to either side when viewing the screen.
Exercises that relax and strengthen the muscles of the upper back can reduce the risk of a double crush of the median nerve. Spinal manipulations performed by a chiropractor may be appropriate to relieve compression of the nerve.