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    How to Avoid Carpal Tunnel

    An artist’s career is wrapped up in his hands, and just a few wrong moves can bring the rise to fame to a screeching halt. You’ve heard of carpal tunnel and repetitive stress syndrome, but do you know what it is? And do you know how to prevent it from standing in the way of success? Here, CF gives you the facts about an artist’s worst enemy—and tips on how to beat it.

    The Causes
    Carpal tunnel develops with repetitive movements of the hands or wrist. The tissue in the carpal tunnel swells with constant use, and over time this swelling increases the pressure placed on the median nerve. The tingling, numbness, weakness, and pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome stems from this pressure on the nerve.

    The Symptoms
    Some of the milder symptoms of carpal tunnel include numbness or pain in your hand, forearm, or wrist that awakens you at night, tingling, the feeling of your hand falling asleep, and numbness or pain that worsens with use of the hand or wrist, especially when gripping an object or bending your wrist.

    Treatment
    While it’s important to consult with your doctor as soon as you start feeling any of these symptoms, surgical treatment—called a carpal tunnel release and involves a small incision to relieve pressure on the median nerve—should only be considered after all other non-surgical treatments have been attempted.

    Prevention and Exercise

    • Use movements that spread the pressure and motion evenly through your hands and wrists.

    • Vary positions often when using repetitive motion.

    • Avoid a lot of salt if you tend to retain fluid.

    • Reduce stress on your fingers, hands, and wrist even when you’re not in control of them—such as while sleeping—by wearing a wrist splint.

    Pull the fingers of your hand back and away from the palm. Let your wrist relax and follow the movement of the finger. Hold for five seconds and repeat with the other hand.

    Stand, put both hands with palm facing down on the top of a desk with fingers facing in toward each other. Push down gently, and slowly stretch your wrists backward.

    Extend forearms parallel to the floor with the palms facing down, and make fists with both hands. Flex your wrists downward while holding the fist. Count to five

    Slowly (and gently) pull each finger for a few seconds. A loud popping sound is okay. Use this exercise last, after warming up with the previous ones.

    —Paddy Mangunta

    Posted by Tim Leong on March 28th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |

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