Preventing Carpal Tunnel and Elbow Pain
Preventing Carpal Tunnel and Elbow Pain in the Workplace
When people sit and type all day they often get concerned about carpal tunnel and elbow pain.
The repeated typing, finger flexion, and wrist flexion tightens down our finger and wrist flexors creating shortness of the muscles and ligaments. Combine this with poor posture, the typical American diet, stress, and we have a recipe for carpal tunnel like symptoms and elbow pain.
Most carpal tunnel like symptoms aren’t true carpal tunnel and can be handled quite easily with proper awareness, office exercises, soft tissue work, and treatment in office. A true carpal tunnel case only has symptoms in the blue portion of the picture. Symptoms is the red or anywhere else might suggest something else going on other than carpal tunnel. (CLICK ON PICTURE ABOVE TO ENLARGE)
In true carpal tunnel there is either a narrowing of the tunnel in wrist and/or swelling of the contents inside the tunnel.
- The actual space in the tunnel can be narrowed due to bony alignment and tightness of the muscles and ligaments around the area. This type of narrowing often responds well to stretching, soft tissue work, and chiropractic adjustments to the wrist and hand to open up the tunnel.
- When there is swelling of the contents of the tunnel itself such as during pregnancy, it is important to eat an anti-inflammatory diet to keep swelling down and seek care for adjustments, stretching, and soft tissue work to improve space in the tunnel.
Carpal tunnel, carpal tunnel like symptoms, and elbow pain can be prevented with stretching of the wrist and hand flexors, proper posture, and nerve flossing exercises.
Perform this stretch once every 1-2 hours to prevent tightness in the arms and hands from repeated finger and wrist flexion (typing, writing, yard work) This can be performed as static holds for 30 seconds or repetitions like 2 sets of 10 holding briefly at the end.
This next exercise below is called nerve flossing. Be careful with this one if you are currently experiencing carpal tunnel like symptoms or any pain down the neck or arms, as it might be too much stress. You can start with just performing the arm movement without moving your neck, and if this is tolerated you can move on to perform as shown in the video. Start with performing 10-15 at a time and shoot for 100 reps total in a day, but never performing more than 20 repetitions at one time.
Posture is of upmost importance to prevent symptoms in the hands and elbows. If we are sitting in our typical American desk jockey posture with our rounded forward neck this will put extra stress on the nerves in the neck that run down the arms and can lead to pain in the neck, arms, and hands. For more on desk posture read last week’s blog here
If you are having symptoms in the hands or elbows always seek professional consult as this can be a sign of more serious issues like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, thoracic outlet syndrome, neurological disease, and many others. It is important to rule these things out before starting any exercise program.
Have a great week and please feel free to email or call me with any questions.
Dr. Ryan Dunn D.C.