Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is not a disease but a musculoskeletal disorder brought on by overworked muscles in the neck, shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand. Constant repetitions of a specific motion, be it micro-movements (like working with a computer mouse or keyboard) or isometric contractions (such as holding a pencil), can cause muscles in the arm to become sore and fatigued.
As muscles tire, the tightness of the tendons and muscles pull on the elbow joint. The increased pressure on the elbow joint causes a misalignment of the elbow. This, in turn, spreads the bones of the forearm (the Radius and the Ulna) apart at the wrist. While experts continue to debate the causes of “carpal tunnel syndrome”—and even whether such a thing exists—no one can dismiss the shooting pain in hands, wrists, and forearms that plagues office, computer and factory assembly line workers. Athletes might suffer from “tennis elbow” or “golf elbow”, but people at risk for CTS is anyone who performs a repetitive hand motion frequently. One reason our upper extremities are so susceptible is because you use your hands and the joints in your arms all day in everything you do. The rest of the answer might surprise you.
A big part of the reason for wrist pain or hand pain (as well as upper extremity pain in general) is not because of what you do – it’s because of what you don’t do.
Why Does My Wrist Hurt?
You don’t move your fingers, hands, wrists, and arms through the whole range of motion they’re capable of. Our fingers remained curled all day while typing, gripping the steering wheel, clutching your cell phone, and so on.
- How many times do you rotate your wrists and bring them back toward your forearm?
- Even if you go to the gym regularly, do you work your triceps nearly as much as your biceps?
And since the nerves which control the upper extremities begin in the neck, posture and structure distortions in the neck caused by chronic poor posture or old trauma often compress the nerves traveling to the hand. Hand and wrist pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness of grip can result. In posture and body mechanics, if you don’t use it you lose it.
Early detection and treatment is important. Since different people have different pain thresholds, it’s best to be screened by a trained professional like a Certified Posture Exercise Professional (CPEP).