People question how exercises can cure injuries. Wouldn’t exercises just worsen the condition? The answer is a simple NO. When done right, certain exercises are good treatments that can actually speed up the healing process.
In the case of CTS, ligaments are injured due to improper force and movement exerted by the wrist. An individual has a higher risk of tearing up the wrist ligaments when his/her muscles are not capable enough of handling a certain degree of pressure. For instance, let’s picture a 7 year old kid swinging through the monkey bars in the park for the first time. When suddenly his playmate jumps and grabs him down while the kid is still hanging holding on to the bars. There is a huge chance the kid will injure his wrists because he does not have enough strength to carry his playmate’s weight plus his own. Now let us put it this way, an athletic dad does pull ups on a steel bar, when suddenly his 5 year old kid jumps on him. It is likely that the athletic dad will still continue those pull ups and counting. These are two extreme examples just so you get the picture how building strength is an important Carpal Tunnel treatment.
Ok so the above example says something about prevention, but what about treatment? Exercise will help you build muscles, and can make your ligaments more flexible WHILE THEY ARE HEALING. And when would be the best time of doing it than NOW.
Making your arms and hands gain more strength and flexibility will ultimately help in preventing FURTHER damage to your wrists and hence make it heal FASTER.
The exercises involves stretches and strengthening which will be further discussed on the videos in this website.
Proper Wrist Movement
Unlike the shoulders and hips, the wrists are not made of ball & socket joint where you can easily move up/down, forward/backward, or do a full rotation. The wrist should only go up or down, or in scientific terms “Flexion” for downwards and “Extension” for upwards. Yes the wrist can also move sideways such as mentioned in the diagram below “Radial Deviation” and “Ulnar Deviation”. It can even twist – “Pronation” and “Supination”. But let us make this clear, repetitive and forceful use of side and twisting actions are both prone to injury. Doing these often hinders proper healing process.
The structure of the human hand is not really designed for side tilting and twisting, but rather those abilities are merely just “allowance” and NOT for primary use. For example, our neck is capable of moving our head horizontally in a 180 degrees fashion. So by using your neck, you can look to your farthest right and to your farthest left. But can you always look left to right and right to left using your neck every 30 seconds without making you dizzy? Similarly, we should not overuse our wrists by tilting sideways and twisting. Flexion and Extension are fine for regular use, just like how we use our knees to walk and run.
So when do we tend to do side tilting and wrist twisting? This usually occurs when moving your standard mouse or typing on a standard keyboard with your wrist tilted sideways. Examples for twisting is trying to open tightly sealed jar lids and opening door knobs.
Let It Heal
Proper exercise and correct form of wrist movement are recipes for exceptional remedy. And it stops there, why? Because another good practice to treat your injured wrist is by doing nothing! Meaning you can heal the condition by absolutely not moving your wrists.
The body has the capacity to heal on its own, and so is your Carpal Tunnel. At times even when you think you are giving it a rest, it really doesn’t. Say for instance you accidentally pin down your arms while sleeping, it causes pain and wakes you up. With the right equipment, this will not happen. We’re talking about wrist braces.
So how do you manage exercise and rest? How often do you exercise, or how long should it rest? It really depends on how worse your condition is. Say for example, if your wrists are severely broken, stick with the wrist braces. Then, until your hands can open and close, and wrists can do Flexion and Extension without pain, start doing gentle stretching exercises for 10 minutes every three days. Then while it is healing, increase frequency by two days, then do strength exercises, then daily, and so on. You are probably the only one who can tell when to start, and when to stop.
In conclusion, exercise, maintaining proper movement, and allowing time to heal are the three best practices for Carpal Tunnel treatment. Well what about surgery? Surgery is expensive, takes time to heal, and will still require these three practices anyway after the operation. It will be a long debate if surgical operations are really needed, but Carpal Tunnel Gadgets only recommends it as a last resort for treatment. Do these 3 practices religiously for a couple of years, if it doesn’t heal, then that’s the only time you may want to consider surgery.
*Here’s a tip: meet with a gym instructor or a physical therapist first before visiting your local surgeon.