As a freelance writer, I am always worried about carpal tunnel syndrome. It could easily devastate my career. Over the past several years I have experienced pain in my wrists, and even had some severe bouts of carpal tunnel syndrome. Thankfully it is not chronic, and I have learned to recognize the situations that aggravate it.
During the most painful episodes I was prompted to research ways of finding relief from the pain of carpal tunnel. There were even points where I had to seriously contemplate giving up typingâ€”and thereby my profession. It was a sobering thought; until I found out I could get relief in some very simple and easy ways.
How Exercise can Help Carpal Tunnel Pain
I learned that exercise can help mild carpal tunnel symptoms, and began to look for ways to exercise throughout the day while I worked. Along with isometric hand and arm exercises, I wanted to incorporate some free weights to do curls and lifts, but every set of dumbbells I looked at were for either a certain weight, or meant having a bunch of plates lying around cluttering up my office.
It began to seem that if I wanted to get many different weight options, I was going to have to turn my already cluttered office into a gym. Then I found a BowflexÂ® dumbbell review that showed me how I could have multiple weights without a bunch of clunky plates everywhere.
I began to use the weights to do curls and overhead lifts and I started to realize that sometimes the numbness I got in my hands wasnâ€™t from carpal tunnel at all, but rather a symptom of tight, tense muscles in my shoulders and neck. Doing the arm exercises released the tension, and got rid of the tingling and numbness.
Relief from Severe Carpal Tunnel
During extreme episodes of carpal tunnel syndrome, I would end up having to wrap my wrists and forearms in ice every night. It turned out, for me that actually writing with a pen or a pencil was more aggravating than typing, and could send me into a severe spasm that would last for hours.
If I positioned my keyboard properly and remembered to exercise my arms regularly throughout the day, I never had a problem with carpal tunnel. I knew that surgery was an option for the most severe cases, but I really didnâ€™t want to do that, except as a last resort. Even with surgery, it turned out that continuing to do what caused the problem could make it come back.
I needed to find more ways to get rid of carpal tunnel syndrome so that it wouldnâ€™t come back, or end up getting worse over time. Some other ways to help prevent or stop carpal tunnel syndrome are:
- Wrist Splinting.Â Wearing a wrist splint or brace that keeps your wrist in the ‘neutral’ position at nighttime can improve your carpal tunnel symptoms in as little as 4 weeks (for those with mild symptoms).
- Yoga.Â One small study compared an intervention involving 11 different yoga postures designed to strengthen, stretch, and balance upper body joints.Â The yoga intervention resulted in greater improvement in pain than wrist splinting.
- Quit smoking. Quitting is better for your overall health, but smoking can also aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Lose weight. Excessive fat buildup around the wrists puts added pressure on the tendons that surround the median nerve and cause carpal tunnel pain.
- Begin a full-body exercise regimen. One such as the P90XÂ® workout program. Keeping fit and toned up helps all of your muscles stay toned and relaxed, including those in the shoulders and neck that can aggravate the nerves that run down your arms to the wrist.
- Surgery.Â Surgical decompression is an effective treatment strategy for those who’ve failed conservative management for 6 months.
You donâ€™t have to let carpal tunnel stop you from what you love to do. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way to halting carpal tunnel in its tracks. Workout a little bit with your arms and hands every day.
Take short breaks several times a day from your work and do a few bicep curls, wrist curls and dumbbell lifts. Eat healthier, lose weight and quit smoking: all things that writers are often prone to avoid. It will take work and it is better if you catch the problem early so you can prevent more severe damage, but it is well worth the effort.
[box type=”info”]Melissa Cameron lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Dave and their two children. Her parents live next door, and complete their extended family. Melissa enjoys spending time with her family while working from home as a freelance writer where she shares her experiences with others who live active lifestyles.[/box]