The carpal tunnel is a narrow channel which runs down the forearm, through the wrist to the hand, on the palm side. The passageway is made of tendons, ligaments, and bones. The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel, providing feeling in the index finger, middle finger, and thumb, as well as the thumb side of the ring finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed in the area between the wrist and the hand. Pressure on the median nerve is often caused by swelling due to repetitive wrist movements.
Strumming the pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common problem for both acoustic and electric guitar players. This is mainly because of the repetitive wrist and finger movements when strumming or shaping chords. The best way for guitarists to avoid carpal tunnel is to perfect their technique and minimize tension and unnecessary muscle use in their wrists and hands.
Scoring the pain
Many pianists experience carpal tunnel syndrome because of the hand and wrist movement while performing, particularly when stretching to play octaves. To avoid this condition, pianists should avoid dropping the wrist while playing. Regular hand and finger flexing can also help.
Snipping the pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a hairdressers’ nightmare and is caused by the repetitive movement of cutting hair. Hairdressers can avoid carpal tunnel issues by keeping their wrists straight, keeping their elbows down and avoiding finger tension while cutting hair. Using a swivel chair can also help.
Calming the carpal tunnel
If carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed early enough, a non-surgical treatment should be enough to ease symptoms. Non-surgical treatments include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or wrist-splints. Sometimes corticosteroids may help alleviate symptoms.
If the condition is severe, surgery may be necessary. The two main surgical options are endoscopic surgery and open surgery. Both methods involve cutting the ligament in the wrist to free the median nerve. After surgery, the ligament’s tissues will heal, leaving more room in the carpal tunnel or the median nerve.
Keeping carpal tunnel syndrome at bay
It is possible to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome even for hairstylists and those who enjoy playing the guitar or piano. Wearing wrist braces when possible, will help support the wrist and ease the pressure. It’s also important to take regular breaks from whichever activity requires repetitive wrist movement. Try to keep wrists straight and if they begin to swell, use an ice pack. Although carpal tunnel syndrome is usually easy to treat, it can cause a lot of inconvenience for people who frequently perform activities using the wrists. The best way to keep carpal tunnel syndrome at bay is to be proactive about it.