Apparently our fingers have no muscles and their movements are controlled by nerves that run from our palms to the muscles in our forearms. They’re like strings attached between our fingers to our elbows. There are other stuff as well – bones, ligaments and tendons. The whole assembly is known as the CARPUS.
Every time we move our fingers to grab something, the nerves get pulled towards the inside of our arm. To prevent the nerves from popping up from the skin, there’s a tunnel specially designed so that all the nerves are held in a neat bundle. This tunnel is known as the CARPUL TUNNEL.
Am I doing alright so far trying to explain in layperson about human anatomy? And why am I telling you all these?
Of late, actually in fact for a few years, I’ve been having persistent tingling sensation and sudden “electric shocks” from my elbows to my hands. The lower arms and hands become numb for no reason. Tried reflexology, acupuncture, medication and whatever convincing advice given to me.
Finally a young doctor told me about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS. Sounds serious right? Somehow the word “syndrome” makes things more worrisome that it really is.
Anyway the good doctor suggested that I consult a specialist to confirm if I have CTS. Now that is even more serious than what he suspects is my problem and I don’t want to add another specialist in my list of regular people to see.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands, literally. Research about CTS and found that this syndrome happens to many people young and old. It has to do with the compression of the carpal tunnel pressing on the nerves. This can be due to genetics, illness, injuries and in most cases the excessive use of the hands.
My case must be one of the ‘most cases’ due to excessive use of hands carrying all sorts of things from bicycles to grocery bags and moving house one too many times.
My right hand seems to feel worse than the left probably because of being right-handed and one tends to do most things with your right hand. But there is another reason – repetitive stress injury.
This is caused by using the mouse for about 8 hours per day for the past 10 or more years. The prolonged use of a certain set of muscles, bones and whatever makes the fingers work will lead to what is commonly known as the Mouse Elbow.
This is not as serious but the soreness is irritating and can lead to CTS. Shaking your hands and doing simple stretches help to relieve the fatigue but won’t make the pain go away completely unless you stop using the mouse permanently.
Regardless of whether our hands and arms get sore from CTS or Mouse Elbow, it is always better to prevent unnecessary stress and fatigue by taking regular breaks from the computer and doing simple stretches during the day.
Here are a couple of suggested exercises. There are lots of them on youtube and they recommend similar type of stretches. Pick one that works for you.
The regular exercises do help but must be done at least once a day depending on how much you are using your hands. On days when I skip the exercise routine, the numbness comes back. There’s just no escape. It’s a constant cruel reminder that age is catching up.