When your hands are your livelihood, discomfort in your hands is a frightening prospect. Feelings of numbness or tingling in your fingers could be symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Before you start to panic, know there are techniques that may improve the symptoms of carpal tunnel.
Carpal tunnel occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve passes through a narrow tunnel in your wrist, known as the carpal tunnel. The tunnel is made of ligament and bone, and if swelling occurs, it causes the tunnel to narrow and can pinch the median nerve. This nerve controls feeling in all your fingers except your pinky finger, so pinching the nerve is what causes the numbness and tingling.
There are no guaranteed ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from occurring. However, employing the following techniques may alleviate symptoms and could prevent the need for surgery down the road.
Vary hands and tasks
If there is a certain motion you repeat with your right hand while working, try switching to your left hand. It will give that hand a break and can prevent strain. You could also switch between that task and another task to break up the repetitive nature of that motion.
Apply less pressure
Tasks can become routine. If you are used to holding a tool a certain way, you generally will continue to do so without thinking. You may also have a job where you type continuously. Perhaps, you are hitting the keys too hard. Stop what you are doing and think about how much pressure you are using when you work. A lighter touch can relieve pressure on your hands.
Take hand breaks
Just like your brain needs a mental break sometimes, your hands may also need a break. When you take a break from work, do something like go for a walk outside or around your building. Avoid using your phone because that will not give your hands a break.
Adjust your posture
When you slouch, you often roll your shoulders. This may shorten the muscles in your neck and shoulders and could make wrists more susceptible to inflammation. Practice good posture you’re your shoulders rolled back.
Try these stretches
According to WebMD, performing these stretches may help with symptoms of carpal tunnel.
Stop sign stretches
- Make your hand into a fist. Release your fingers until it looks like you are making a stop sign with your hand. Do that 5-10 times.
- Create a O-shape by touching each finger to your thumb. Repeat several times.
Hand stretches to improve grip
- Grab a small rubber ball, like a stress ball. Squeeze and hold for five seconds. Do that 10 times.
If none of these techniques improve your feelings of numbness or tingling, it might be time to visit a doctor. A medical professional can diagnosis your symptoms and prescribe the best treatment.