Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition of the forearms, hands and wrists where the median nerve becomes irritated, causing pain in the wrist and hands. Carpal tunnel is common among people that use computers often, or use their wrists and hands repetitively in other ways.
Preventing and treating carpal tunnel syndrome is a matter of maintaining range of motion and strength in the wrists and hands to prevent them from becoming stiff and irritated. Periodically throughout the workday you should perform stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent and alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms. Wrist circles are a simple exercise that focus on stretching the ligaments of the wrists. Begin wrist circles by bending your fingers forward and attempting to touch your forearms. Next, rotate both wrists until they cannot move any further, open your hands, then rotate the wrists back in the other direction. Continue this pattern several times, then switch so that you rotate each wrist in the opposite direction.
Stretching and moving the hand and fingers will also help with carpal tunnel syndrome. One easy hand exercise is finger touches. To do finger touches, start by opening up both hands so that the fingers are spread apart and bent back as far as they can go. Next, touch the pinky finger to the thumb while keeping the other fingers back as far as possible. Proceed by touching the ring finger to the thumb and go down the line, touching each finger to the thumb in succession, while keeping the other fingers straight. Finally, attempt to touch the thumb to the hand just below the pinky finger, then go backward touching each of the fingers to the thumb. Once you get back to the pinky finger, repeat the exercise.
Grip balls are hand-sized balls that resist being squished and assume their original shape after being squeezed. Squeezing grip balls periodically during the day will strengthen the forearm and muscles in the hand, which may help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Grip balls can be used any time; you don't have to use your hands for something else, such as when you are talking on the phone or reading.
Another way to strengthen the forearms is to do wrist curls. Start by gripping a light dumbbell, water bottle or jar with one hand, then place the forearm on a flat surface, with the hand jutting out over the edge of the surface. With the palm pointed upward, bend at the wrist to let the weight down, then curl the wrist toward you, lifting the weight up. Continue the exercise until you feel the muscles in your forearm begin to fatigue, then switch wrists and do the same number of repetitions. As your strength improves, you can use heavier objects or dumbbells as resistance.