Controlling Wrist Pain with Exercise

by Jeff Anliker, LMT - Date: 2007-04-20 - Word Count: 605 Share This!

Wrist pain can occur for a variety of reasons including medical illness, overuse of the wrist, and acute trauma. In each case, the pain can be debilitating and undermine one's ability to perform basic daily living tasks in a pain-free environment. Thankfully, innovative treatments are emerging to help manage, reduce, and in some cases, completely eliminate wrist pain altogether.

By far, the most common and recognizable cause of wrist pain during the past 20-years is carpal tunnel syndrome. Caused by compression and entrapment of the median nerve between the transverse carpal ligament and the two rows of carpal bones, carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by numbness, tingling, swelling and paresthesia (pins and needles) in the thumb and first three fingers, and moderate to severe pain in the wrist, with referred pain often radiating up the arm into the shoulder, upper back and neck. It may also involve diminished hand strength, coordination of fine movements and dexterity.

Medical illness is also a common cause of wrist pain, and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes can make people vulnerable to injury. Interestingly, both pregnancy and menopause can make women more vulnerable to wrist pain, and, as a rule, women experience repetitive stress injury to the wrist more often than men.

Remedies for wrist pain vary, and they can involve everything from hot and cold compresses, cooling packs, medication, cortisone injections and even surgery as a last resort. Depending on the reason for the injury, proper stretches and exercises that enhance strength and mobility around the wrist joint are among the most favored interventions as they treat the underlying source of most wrist pain - muscle imbalance. Indeed, research shows that the right training regimen involving passive and active stretches and exercises can correct imbalanced muscles and misaligned joints, thereby reducing symptoms in a matter of weeks without having to undergo invasive treatment procedures that many often succumb to, and even more often, without much relief.

Talk with your doctor about conservative exercise and stretch therapy before being subjected to procedures that have poor success as shown in the following statistics.

Wrist Splints and Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Failure rate is 81.6% (Including "partial success") in total alleviation of symptoms. Curative rate following treatment is 18.4%. Source: Kaplan, et al, 1990. J Hand Surgery.

Iontophoresis + Splinting: Failure rate is 42.1% in total alleviation from symptoms. Source: Banta, et al, 1994. J Hand Surgery.

Steroid Injection: Failure rate is 72.6% after 1-year follow up. (Including "partial success" as failure) Source: Irwin, et al. J Hand Surgery.

With wrist pain being so predominant in the past 20-years due to occupational and recreational activities, it is easy to see that repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome need to be addressed on all levels, from prevention to full-scale rehabilitation.

Although ergonomic products have been implemented in the workplace to help reduce excessive stress and strain to the body, the fact remains that the job / task still has to be performed by humans day-to-day and month-to-month, causing increased risk of injury. The key here is to introduce better methods of prevention and treatment, addressing repetitive strain injuries on a conservative level and getting people back to work as quickly as possible without the residual problems that often occur when invasive treatment techniques are utilized. (As shown in the statistics above.) Whether you have work or recreational induced wrist pain, a conservative stretch and exercise program to create joint stability and strength is more than likely exactly what you need.

NOTE: Be sure to consult your physician for a proper diagnosis of your condition before starting any type of exercise routine.

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Jeff P. Anliker, LMT, is a therapist and inventor of products that prevent and treat carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries without surgery or other invasive methods. Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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