Exercises to Recover From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Since the launch of the IBM Personal Computer in 1981, annual sales of desktop computers has exploded to peak at approximately 350 million units/year in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The massive adoption of computers has led to the belief that spending too much time working over a keyboard and mouse would cause hand pain and numbness, commonly referred to as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
However, a study by the Mayo Clinic indicated that there is little clinical evidence suggesting that keyboard use is a risk factor for developing CTS.
An article by Cornell University Ergonomics: Human Centered Design argues that the Mayo Clinic study was flawed as the study did not include user posture assessment. The Cornell study states that “ergonomic research shows that computer users often adopt poor wrist postures, and working in deviated postures is thought to increase the risk of injury.”
The National Safety Council (NSC) in this 2011 article “Workplace Myth” in their Safety and Health Magazine recognizes that computer keyboard use does not lead to an increase risk of CTS but may lead to other pains and strains in the wrist and hand.
To reduce the risk of some upper-extremity disorders related to computer use, the Harvard Medical School recommends:
- When working on a keyboard or with a mouse, keep your wrists in a neutral position, rather than flexed downward or extended upward.
- Take a break from computer work and stretch every hour. Between these breaks, take shorter breaks to rest your hands, either palms up on your lap or on a wrist rest.
- Keep all items you may need access to – documents, telephone, keyboard, mouse and supplies – no more than 16-18 inches away to avoid awkward postures or reaching.
- Place the computer monitor directly in front of you, at arm’s length.
- Consider setting your keyboard on an adjustable tray that allows your forearms to remain parallel to the floor, with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Wrists should form a straight line with your forearms.
- Keep your mouse close to the keyboard and at the same height. A padded wrist rest may help reduce strain.
Martin Kielema, a physical therapist at Always Fysio recommends a combination of stretching and strengthening your lower arm muscles to help you recover from CTS. We’ve added his exercises into a Home Exercise Program (HEP) using the PT-Helper CONNECT platform and presented on the PT-Helper mobile app.
These sample exercises can be quickly downloaded into the PT-Helper mobile app using
You can also find these exercises in the Wrist and Elbow category in the PT-Helper mobile app to add to your Favorites which allows you to customize each exercise’s repetitions, sets, and hold time.
Reminder: Please consult your physician before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.
- Wrist Flexor Stretch
- Wrist Extension Resisted
- Wrist Flexion Resisted
Keeping elbow straight, grasp palm side of hand and slowly bend your wrist backward until a stretch is felt on underside of forearm. Hold. Relax to starting position. Repeat 3 times while holding for 30 seconds. Do this exercise multiple times a day.
Place your arm resting on a table with your wrist hanging off the side of the table, your palm down, and your hand hanging down holding a weight. Bend your wrist up, pause, then slowly lower down to starting position. You may choose not to use a weight if you are not strong enough. Repeat 10 times.
Place your arm resting on a table with your wrist hanging off the side of the table, your palm up, and your hand hanging down holding a weight. Bend your wrist up, pause, then slowly lower down to starting position. You may choose not to use a weight if you are not strong enough. Repeat 10 times.
Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers, so you too may create and prescribe Home Exercise Programs like the one shown above.
Click here to view Wrist and Elbow exercises currently available within the PT-Helper Exercise Library.