According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, women are three times more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome than men, making simple tasks like typing, slicing and dicing painful. The associated pain or numbness in the hands and wrist can be caused by repetitive motions and occur when the median or ulnar nerves in a wrist becomes compressed.
Often, carpal tunnel syndrome does not occur in isolation. There are two definitive tests to diagnose carpal tunnel: Tinels and Phalens. Tinels requires tapping on the underside of the wrist, and if shooting pains in the hand occur, it is considered positive. Phalens requires holding both wrists in a back-to-back position in front of the body with the wrists bent at 90 degrees and holding for 90 seconds. If the hands feel heavy, tingling, burning, or numb, then it is considered a positive sign. The other co-occurring issue that goes along with carpal tunnel is called thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) and can mimic carpal tunnel. Tightness, soreness and restrictions in the neck, shoulder, chest muscles and/or a slight shift in one of the ribs can gently press on the nerves and blood vessels that go into the wrist and hands. These are easily corrected by a physical therapist, chiropractor, osteopath and yoga, or regular head, neck, arm and shoulder exercises that open these regions.
Womens wrists are, on average, 10 percent narrower than mens, so its important their wrist support is made just for them, as wrists are not one-size-fits-all, says Holly Herman, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Orthopedic and Womens Health. Not only can carpal tunnel hurt, it can prevent women from doing even the most basic tasks with their hands. The good news is carpal tunnel and thoracic outlet syndrome can be treated, often without surgery, by using a brace like Wellgate Wrist Support. It helps to ease the painful symptoms of tendonitis, arthritis and sprains, and provides rehabilitation by positioning the wrist to relieve pressure on the median nerve during the day and at night to keep the wrist in a neutral position.
Wellgates unique splint design aligns the wrist structure for functional improvement, and the memory foam and soft fabric provide comfort day and night, and it is recommended to wear a brace to bed to help speed recovery.
The American Physical Therapy Association offers these tips for women to limit their chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Only move your fingers and keep your wrists straight when typing and try using a keyboard pad to rest your wrists during breaks.
- Maintain good posture to reduce strain when typing. Make sure your spine is flush with the back of the chair, your shoulders are relaxed, and feet are flat on the floor.
- Keep your computer monitor at eye level, so you dont have to bend your neck.
- Take frequent breaks from activities that require repetitive motion. Even slicing and dicing can put strain on the wrist.
- Consider using a wrist brace at night or when playing sports to keep the wrist in a neutral position and allow it to be supported.
If women do get carpal tunnel or thoracic outlet syndrome, they dont have to live with pain, adds Herman.
For HealthyWomen HealthyMen LLC
Dara Shlifka, 646-964-4446