Carpal Tunnel Relief Exercises | Total Performance Physical Therapy | 215.997.9898February 13, 2019
A misdiagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome led to a young, very athletic mom, not able to even lift a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to come in and have a wrong diagnosis, even one that has been given to them by a medical provider.
In this case the patient had numbness and tingling in her right fingers and she had it diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. All the signs were there, and she worked at a computer which reinforced the diagnosis.
She went to a hand specialist who officially diagnosed it as carpal tunnel. She was doing a lot of exercises, a lot of stretching and it wasn’t getting better, it was getting worse. And when it was at its worst, she was unable to pick up a cup of coffee.
When she came to our clinic, she had full range of motion, but she could not hold even the lightest objects, she was so weak, and her arm was in so much pain. The first thing we did was look above the wrist. Most of the time this is overlooked. Looking at the elbow and the neck is an important step in properly diagnosing something at the wrist.
Most of the time, things that people have wrong with them do not fit into one perfect little box. Like with the example above, she did have carpal tunnel, but what she also had several other things going on that were worse than the carpal tunnel and causing her arm and hand to go weak.
If you are suffering from wrist pain, you want to look at your neck and your elbow. You want to look at your posture and how you are holding your arm, wrist, hand and neck. For example, if you are right handed you will do everything with your right hand. You hold your child with that hand and arm, you will use it for doing activities like writing and carrying groceries. So, you need to make sure when you are doing any activity you are watching your posture.
Then you need to look at your sleeping position. A lot of people will sleep on their stomach, which is a big no no. You can really mess things up if you sleep on your stomach because your neck cannot be in the correct position.
Sleeping on your side is preferred or on your back. But when you are a side sleeper you must be careful of a few things that can mess up your neck, elbow and wrist. People will often sleep with a flat pillow or a feather pillow which will not provide them with enough support on their neck. They will have to scrunch their shoulder using it almost as a pillow which will cause pain and numbness and tingling into the hands, fingers and arm.
Instead of your body relaxing and allowing your shoulders to relax, and the blood and fluid to flow naturally, you wind up shutting things down and hurting yourself even more.
Also, side sleepers, often will sleep on their hand under their head which will cause a lot of that numbness and tingling which can only present like carpal tunnel. Again, you limit the blood supply and pinch the nerves causing pain and numbness and tingling.
The best pillow to buy if you are a side sleeper, is a side sleeper pillow. Nothing special, the one I sleep with came from Kohl’s and was about $30. When I lay down, my head does not drop down, it stays in the same place as if I was standing up. This way you do not need to scrunch your shoulder up.
If you have a feather or a down pillow or any type of pillow that’s really, soft and you are a side sleeper, you have to get rid of it. The side sleeper pillow will feel like you are sleeping on a board. But it is important to have that support to give your shoulder, elbow and wrist a break.
You want to next look at how you lift objects. Most people who have wrist or elbow pain will shrug their shoulder in order to lift the object because they are unable due to weakness or pain to lift the object without shrugging the shoulder. But half the battle of treating an injury, especially one that came on as a result of repetitive use, like carpal tunnel, is figuring what repetitive motion in your arm you are doing that is causing the injury to become worse.
For more examples and to see more exercises watch the video below.
If you are experiencing neck, shoulder or hand pain, you need to make sure that you are looking above and below the joint and not just putting you into one box and trying to only treat. Finding the origin of the pain is the only way to treat it and make sure it goes away for good. Otherwise you are just treating the symptoms and you will wind up frustrated.
If you are looking for physical therapy for carpal tunnel in Hatfield or physical therapy for neck pain in Chalfont or physical therapy for elbow pain in Norristown and want a free consultation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy to discover the source of your pain for free, then call 215-997-9898 to set up a FREE consultation!