©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Guitar playing may put you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.

If your job or hobby requires you to spend a good deal of time punching cash register keys, gripping strings or holes on a musical instrument, twisting a screwdriver, clicking a sluggish computer mouse, or doing any other repetitive, forceful movement with your hands, you may be at risk for a painful condition called carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The same appears to be true if you use your hands to control a jackhammer or other powerful, vibrating tool.

Find out about the symptoms and some home remedies to protect your wrists from carpal tunnel syndrome.

CTS is a collection of symptoms that generally includes episodes of numbness, tingling or a "pins and needles" sensation, burning, and aching in the thumb, index and middle fingers, and thumb-side of the ring finger. Early on, these symptoms tend to appear in the middle of the night or shortly after an extended period of repetitive motion, and shaking out the hand often brings relief. As the condition worsens, the discomfort occurs more frequently and becomes more bothersome. In severe cases, pain may shoot from the wrist up the forearm and even into the shoulder, the numbness in the fingers and thumb may become constant, and the thumb muscles may waste away, causing a loss of grip strength and coordination.  

To understand why CTS occurs, it helps to take a look inside the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that runs through the wrist. It is only about the size of a postage stamp, but it is crowded with nerves, blood vessels, and nine different tendons (packed in like strands of spaghetti) that control finger movement. Repetitive motions or certain medical conditions can cause the tendons to swell, decreasing blood flow and compressing the median nerve, which controls movement and sensation in the thumb, the index and middle fingers, and one side of the ring finger. (The median nerve does not control the pinky, so if your symptoms extend to your little finger, carpal tunnel syndrome is most likely not your problem.) This compression is what causes the episodes of numbness, tingling, and burning of carpal tunnel syndrome. If left unchecked, muscle wasting and permanent damage to the nerve can result.

By far the most common carpal tunnel syndrome cause is repetitive, forceful movements of the hand, especially with the wrist bent or the hand in an awkward position, that irritate the tendons and cause them to swell. For this reason, CTS, like tendinitis and bursitis, is considered a "cumulative trauma disorder." However, medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone), pregnancy, and overweight can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms by causing swelling within the tightly packed carpal tunnel.

Keep reading to learn about home remedies for reducing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and how to prevent it from becoming a major problem.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider. products should be used in the manner described in this publication.