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Four Ways to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Flare-Ups

We all rely on our hands in one form or another, whether you spend hours at a computer or you just need to make dinner for the kids. When carpal tunnel syndrome sets in, aching pain can plague you day and night, whether you’re using your hands and wrists, or not.

To prevent a carpal tunnel flare-up in the first place, Dr. B. Sam Tabibian and our team here at Physical Medicine Institute pulled together four tips that can go a long way toward maintaining pain-free movement.

Your carpal tunnel

Before we get into how you can prevent a flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s helpful to review what causes the discomfort in the first place. Your carpal tunnel is a small passageway located in the underside of your wrist. This “tunnel” connects nine flexor tendons and your median nerve from your forearms to your wrists.

If there’s any inflammation in this tiny space, it can compress the nerves and tendons, which is what creates the pain, tingling, and numbness, which you usually feel in your hands and fingers.

Now that we better understand what happens in your carpal tunnel, let’s take a look at how you can prevent a flare-up.

1. Shake it out

If you spend considerable time using your hands and wrists, especially while staying in one position, shake them out every few minutes to prevent your flexor muscles from cramping. Perhaps set your own internal timer — after every task, stop and shake your hands before you dive into the next task.

2. Stretch it out

One of the best ways to prevent a carpal tunnel flare-up is to incorporate a few stretching exercises into your day. You can start by extending your arm out in front of you and raising your hand as if you’re telling someone, “Stop!” Grab the tops of your fingers and gently pull back. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

Now, flip your hand so that’s facing downward and pull your hand toward the underside of your wrist. Here again, hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

Another great exercise is to make a fist and then fan your fingers out. Repeat this exercise 5-10 times.

3. Wear a brace

If you’re prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, wearing a wrist brace that keeps your wrist straight is a good idea.

4. Take frequent breaks

One of the most important things you can do for your carpal tunnel is to take frequent breaks, especially if you’re engaged in an activity that keeps your wrists and hands in one position for long periods, such as working at the computer.

Taking frequent breaks from repetitive tasks is a good practice for all parts of your body, including your wrists.

Treating a carpal tunnel flare-up

If, despite your best efforts, you still develop carpal tunnel pain, we can help resolve the problem through:

The goal with all of our treatments is to reduce the inflammation, which is what compresses your median nerve and creates the discomfort.

If you have more questions about preventing or treating carpal tunnel syndrome, please contact our office in Sherman Oaks, California, for a consultation.

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