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Carpal Tunnel

A repetitive stress injury

Carpal tunnel is an inflammation most often occurring in the wrists, arms and shoulders due to prolonged periods of consistent short movements such as typing, drawing, product assembly and other workplace activities. Typically the body is in a state of semi-rest and the activity is confined to the arms and shoulders. Due to this regular activity that is unsupported by the rest of the body, the heart rate is more restful and circulation inadequate to supply the nutrients or remove toxins from the affected ligaments and tendons.

The real preventative measure is to limit the time spent at such activities and engage more in activities where all the muscles and body systems come into play. Exercise systems like Iyengar Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga when performed in periods to total about six hours per week (three or four sessions on alternate days) is generally sufficient to prevent the development of carpal tunnel and this is aided by regular massage and of course a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Of course long-term solution would be to change the nature of industry and this is happening with the development of robotics. Unfortunately not every artist, office or factory worker has the opportunity or what it takes to get involved and taking responsibility for their health and it would be a better idea for employers to set several exercise periods every day between five and fifteen minutes to help delay the onset of this crippling affliction.

RSI as it is commonly termed in some countries when it becomes severe that persons are incapacitated and no longer able to perform their role or duties, the most common treatment is a complete change of occupation and rest so that the afflicted part of the body which is typically the wrists are not used but usually by this stage, normal daily activities are enough to worsen the condition and the only solution then is surgery.

Surgery involves removing the tendons that the ligaments and nerve sheaths run through to reduce friction and this may cause further disability later in life. In effect it is a quick fix that leaves the body structurally weaker.

Yoga

As a system of exercise, yoga works the entire body and brings the skeleton, muscular and other body systems into alignment. An effect that harmonises the whole body and the affected muscles, ligaments and tendons involved in the condition known as carpal tunnel are restored through stretching and increased circulation.

When carpal tunnel has reached an advanced stage where surgery seems the only alternative, a period of time away from work combined with regular yoga practice and massage are able to restore those damaged tissues. Unfortunately it may not be enough to prevent the condition from recurring although in some cases it does.

Massage

Self massage combined with a little exercise can offset and defer the symptoms of carpal tunnel developing for some years when performed regularly. Regular professional massages are a better option that few employees can afford so it's advisable to take a short massage course and learn a few basic exercises as illustrated below.

The wrist brace

Wrist braces simply restrict the movement of the wrist and forcefully wear to use different muscles and ligaments to achieve the same task. They often give people some relief and in serious cases along with yoga and massage help the healing process especially when doing normal daily chores. Some people are able to wear a wrist brace at work and some are not and it must be worn outside of work to give the body time to recover for another day in the office. It shows how much of a slave you are to your job.

Topical creams

Topical creams and balms like Tiger Balm also provide relief at the end of a day's work. They can be used regularly and in conjunction a wrist brace and massage. The effects of a cream is enhanced by the more time put into gently rubbing it over the affected area and surrounding areas. In other words, if the pain is simply in the wrist, rub the cream or balm into the affected area plus the entire hand and forearm.

Using ice or heat packs

Ice certainly numbs the area but many people find this is as unpleasant as the affliction and it needs to be followed up with a hot pack. The ice contracts the affected tissues and the surrounding area then a hot pack loosens them up creating an effect similar to stretching. Some people benefit from this and some don't so it's a matter of trial and error and far better to prevent the condition in the first place rather than trying to effect a cure which gently leaves the body more susceptible to recurrence.

The real solution is to begin taking responsibility for one's self before commencing a career or getting a job. This involves learning some yoga, learning some massage and becoming a little more self-aware and responsive so that the earliest signs of carpal tunnel can be nipped in the bud and preventative action increased.

When affected one is playing a game of catch up and the cure may only come with a change of lifestyle and occupation.

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