What Are Some Good Exercises For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

What are some good exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Carpal tunnel is a debilitating condition that effects more than the common secretary. Musicians, bodybuilders, and typist all are prone... Learn more.

TOPIC: What Are Some Good Exercises For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The Question:

Carpal Tunnel is a syndrome that can cause a lot of pain around the wrist.

What are some signs of Carpal Tunnel?

What are some good exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

What are other treatment options?

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Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel is a debilitating condition that effects more than the common secretary. Musicians, bodybuilders and typists all are prone to the familiar term.

What Are Some Signs Of Carpel Tunnel?

For most individuals, it starts off as a vague ache in the wrist and/or elbow area. For some it will begin to wake you in the night with intense pain because the wrist is commonly bent while sleeping. It can take minutes and even hours for the pain to subside.

After the onset of pain, it can and usually does result in numbness of the fingers and hands. More specially the thumb, index and middle finger. The median nerve, which is what is blocked or strained when you have Carpel Tunnel, is what provides sensation to the afore mentioned fingers.

During the early stages of the condition, most individuals can shake out the pain or loss of sensation. However, as time progresses, it becomes more and more challenging to do so and at some point is not an option.

Many think the pain is regulated only to the wrist, however some will feel the pain radiate throughout the entire arm, beginning in the shoulder region. When the wrist is bent, or feels any pressure (such as holding a weight, even if not bending the arm) it will send a tight and painful sensation throughout the entire arm, reaching to the ends of your fingers.

If not treated promptly and/or correctly, someone might even feel a sense of feebleness in grip. You can be holding the same weight in both arms but one side can feel 10% heavier because it takes that much more strength to maintain the grip.

The hands can become clumsy and unable to hold things for long periods of time. In advanced cases, fingers will lose all feeling, making it almost impossible to function, especially in the world of weight lifting.

There are a few initial tests that one can do at home to determine if one might have the onset of Carpel Tunnel; however, an EMG from your local doctor is the only sure way to determine if it is truly carpal tunnel.

The first at-home method however is Tinel's Sign. This is performed by tapping the median nerve along its course in the wrist. A positive test is found when this causes worsening of the tingling in the fingers when the nerve is tapped.

The second is Phalen's Sign. This test is done by pushing the back of your hands together for one minute. This compresses the carpal tunnel and is also positive when it causes the same symptoms you have been experiencing with your carpal tunnel syndrome (www.about.com).

If you have experienced any or all of the above symptoms, it is best you see your local doctor for an EMG. He/she will use an electric impulse to determine if there is nerve abnormalities. It can be painful, but will give you and your doctor a better foundation to prescribe necessary measures to provide relief.

What Are Some Good Exercises For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Most doctors will suggest you limit your activity in the wrist area. Making sure to use wrist lifts while on the computer and reducing the weight when you are working out significantly. Even if you are not bending directly on the wrist, the pressure on your fingers and hands to hold the weight in a static position can still cause pain and worsen of the condition.

You will have to try and modify most upper body exercises as many require you bend the wrist. Push-ups can be done on the knuckles. Triceps extensions and bicep curls will need total control of the wrist area, as not to bend in either direction but keep everything in line. This requires meticulous form, which one should try to do anyway.

Dr. Housang Seradge at the University of Oklahoma Orthopedic & Reconstructive Research Foundation developed the following exercises for those who have been diagnosed with Carpel Tunnel.

Studies there indicate that two out of three patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel symptoms were able to avoid surgery by using these exercises - twice the success rate of other nonsurgical treatments. These exercises are more successful in patients with mild symptoms, and are not recommended for patients with severe symptoms. Patients who have persistent symptoms despite these exercises should discuss surgical treatment with their physician.

What Are Other Treatment Options?

Most doctors will recommend braces/splints first. They will usually have a slightly flexible plate in the wrist area to keep the wrist straight but still give you the latitude to complete daily tasks.

They will also encourage you to avoid lifting heavy and maybe at all, until the pressure self-corrects. If that does not provide any relief or open the tunnel up, the next step is a shot of cortisone to provide temporary relief to provide more time for self-correction.

When the condition is rather developed and self-correction is not an option, most will opt for a non-evasive surgery. The doctor cuts the ligament pressing on the nerve.

As technology has advanced, most doctors can do this using an endoscope, which is a telescope-like device with a tiny camera attached to it that allows the doctor to see inside the tunnel and perform the surgery. (www.mayoclinc.com). Most note significant improvement after the surgery but there is still the chance of lasting numbness, pain or weakness.

Carpal tunnel is a serious condition that many in the fitness industry have to be careful of. Whether you are lifting weights all day for yourself or because you are training clients, you have to be careful that you do not over-extend the wrist and/or put too much pressure on it.

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above it is best you see a doctor as soon as possible. You can possibly avoid surgery and a recovery time of 2-6 weeks, which is an eternity to someone who works out.

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What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

The carpal tunnel is a pathway located at the end of the palm. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), occurs when the (median) nerve between the forearm and hand is compressed. The median nerve sends impulses into the hand and allows the thumb and fingers - aside from the little 'pinky' finger - to contract. Irritated tendons lead to thickening or swelling within this tunnel which narrows in on the nerve and may result in pain, weakness, loss of feeling/mobility within the hand, wrist and arm.1,2,3

The prevalence of CTS is affected by genetics and one's every day lifestyle. Those who perform manual labor on a regular basis are more susceptible to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.4


  • Women are 300% more likely than men to develop Carpal Tunnel than men.
  • CTS is 3x more common amongst assembly line workers than data-entry/computer personnel. In 2001, the Mayo Clinic determined that upward of 7 hours of computer usage, per day, did not increase the risk of developing CTS.
  • In 1998, 3/10,000 workers were unable to work due to Carpal Tunnel - with 50% of these workers missing more than 10 days of work.
  • The average lifetime cost of carpal tunnel syndrome is estimated to be about $30,000!3

What Are Some Signs Of Carpal Tunnel?

Symptoms occur over a prolonged period of time, usually making a first appearance while sleeping. Some may report that their hands feel useless and swollen - without any evident swelling.2

Other symptoms range from frequent paresthesia (burning and tingling), itching, tenderness, numbness, sensory difficulty, inability to determine the difference between hot and cold and decreased grip strength.1,2,3 These signs often commence during the night when people sleep with flexed wrists. Pain throughout the day indicates an increased level of severity.3

Writer's Cramp is not an indication of CTS.

Please Note: If untreated, the muscles surrounding the foundation of the thumb may deteriorate.3

What Are Some Good Exercises For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

"Yoga ... has been shown to reduce pain and improve grip strength among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome." 3

What Are Other Treatment Options?

Always consult a physician and ensure proper diagnosis before beginning any CTS recovery protocol. Consider visiting a clinic which specializes in CTS diagnosis and treatment for official recognition as many fraudulent claims are made in an effort to receive Workers Compensation.

Treatment options include:


      Many claim that occasional acupuncture relieves nerve pain and increases mobility.

Anti-inflammatory Drugs

      Decreasing inflammation will reduce/release pressure placed upon the median nerve.

Massage And/Or Physical Therapy

      Employs a similar technique to those exercises and stretches mentioned above.


      There are many different variations of surgery. The two most common are open-hand surgery and endoscopic surgery. Open-hand, referred to as the 'gold standard', typically consists of an incision 1-2 inches in length which provides access to a ligament which can then be divided.
      My dad has always performed physical labor to some extent and has suffered Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in both of his wrists. He underwent open-hand surgery both times and had near recovery in little to no time at all. The surgery was relatively brief, composed of freezing the area and then performing the incision while the patient is awake (and can even watch - although not recommended).

Wrist Support Immobilization

      Nowadays these devices are only recommended during the night or during the activity which elicits the symptoms of CTS.


      Often overlooked in modern life, some 'down time' may alleviate discomfort and accelerate recovery.


    1. www.arthritis.ca
    2. www.emedicine.com
    3. www.ninds.nih.gov
    4. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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The carpal tunnel is located underneath the flexor retinaculum, which is a sheath protecting numerous objects in the wrist. The carpal tunnel is essentially the space between the hand and the bones. However, in this day and age, when one says carpal tunnel, they usually are referring not to the anatomical structure, but to the very painful condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is commonly described as a state in which the median nerve is compressed at the wrist. It is more commonly found in woman than men, and usually occurs around the age of 42. Don't let this mislead you, however, for any gender/age is susceptible to suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

It is important that even if you don't think you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome you take the necessary steps to equip yourself with the valuable knowledge of it in the instance you should acquire it.

What Are Some Signs Of Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome first makes it's mark by causing numbness and/or paresthesia, which is a burning/tingling sensation, in the digits and/or palm. This commonly occurs first while sleeping due to the fact of the matter that many people sleep with a bent wrist. Unfortunately, this can further worsen the compression of the carpal tunnel.

Some may wrongly associate this feeling with their hands simply "falling asleep," or poor blood circulation at first. As the syndrome progresses however, one should be able to conclude that their condition is in fact not simply a matter of poor blood circulation, but rather Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is because as time goes on, weakness and difficulty clenching the fist become symptoms. However, unless numbness and/or paresthesia are present and dominant as symptoms, it is unlikely that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the primary cause of your condition.

What Are Some Good Exercises For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

When exercising for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the goal is to stretch the forearm muscles while reducing tension on tendons. This can be reached through various means of stretching and other flexing motions.

A great exercise is the one created by Dr. Housang Seradge.

Remember that you should talk with your doctor first before starting any exercise program to make sure it is necessary for your specific condition of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and for other health reasons.

What Are Other Treatment Options?

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is like a dual-edged sword. On the one hand, it is difficult to treat. On the other, however, there are many various different treatment options available for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Here is a list of the most popular and effective available solutions:


      An injection of cortisone can be an effective way to reduce swelling and nerve pressure. Of course, you can also always use an aspirin or other over-the-counter medicine to relieve pain and somewhat control the symptoms.

Steroid Injections

      This will help with the pain tremendously in the short-run, however it is not recommended for the long-run. Use this option while you plan your permanent affecting attack such as surgery.


      Surgery is the one option that should really be considered and performed if Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is found to indeed be existent. It has a high success rate and is a permanent fix to your excruciating pain.

Immobilizing Braces

This is another possibility. A simple splint or brace worn during the suspected causing activity and at night may do the trick. However, activity modifications in many cases will work just as well.

Treating The Primary Cause

      In some cases, the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome people are experiencing is but a secondary condition to another primary one, such as a metabolic disorder. By treating the primary cause, one may reverse the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as well.


I wish you all the best in your pursuit to live a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome free life.