Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of the most commonly known wrist/hand injuries. This ailment is often found in the sedentary desk job population, grocery checkout clerks, and other occupations associated with high quantities of repetitious movements -- including..... MUSICIANS.
As seen in the first image below, there are 3 major nerves that provide sensation to the hand. They include the Median Nerve, Ulnar Nerve, and the Radial Nerve. What is important to note, is that these nerves originate from the brain and are comprised of several cervical nerve roots in the neck before joining together to form the awesome super-highway nerves listed above. CTS specifically describes the impingement of the Median Nerve at the level of the wrist.
With CTS, the distribution of symptoms follows a specific pattern. Most commonly, patients will complain of symptoms on the PALMAR aspect of their hand including the thumb, index, middle fingers as well as 1/2 of the ring finger (side closest to the middle finger). It is very important to know this when trying to figure out which nerves may be affected, because the Ulnar and Radial Nerves will affect OTHER portions of your hand (to be discussed at a later date).
Common symptoms include:
CTS occurs when there is too much pressure within the carpal tunnel, a VERY small space where 9 tendons and the Median nerve pass through in order to go into the hand.
As you can see, there is not a whole lot of space for error. So - when we subject our bodies to high stress/repetitive activities, inflammation and swelling can occur which can cause more pressure on the nerve.
How would you like it if someone tried to squeeze their body into an already jam-packed elevator? You would be irritated. That's how your nerve is probably feeling.
You: "Ok, Janice. I've done my research, and I think I have CTS. What do I do?"
First of all, it is not entirely advisable that you self-diagnose your problems. What IS advisable, is that you do your research as you have, AND consult a KNOWLEDGEABLE healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or orthopedist.
Conservatively, there are a few things you can try to decrease your symptoms:
That's all for now. Be happy and healthy!
Dr. Janice Ying is a Los Angeles-based Physical Therapist. She is board-certified Orthopedic Physical Therapy Specialist and is regarded as a leading expert in the field of Performing Arts Medicine and the development of cutting edge injury prevention and rehabilitation programs for musicians.
The information on this website is intended for educational purposes and should NOT be construed as medical advice. If you have or think you have a health-related issue which needs to be addressed, please seek the help from your local licensed medical professional.