Find Your Place: The Carpal Tunnel Screen
Pain, tingling, or numbness during this test could indicate a problem with your wrists.
When you press the backs of your hands together in front of you, do you feel pain, tingling, or numbness in your thumb, forefinger, or middle finger? In this video, SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack shows how the Phalen’s maneuver, or wrist flexion test, can give you clues about your carpal tunnel health.
Try the test now, then see what your results mean below. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or a condition that affects your hands and wrists, skip the test, but check out the tips below.
If You Didn’t Feel Pain, Tingling, or Numbness in Your Fingers
That’s a sign your wrists are in good health. To help keep them that way, practice a few healthy habits:
- Try wrist-friendly exercise tweaks if pushups, planks, and other exercises hurt your wrists. Taking a SilverSneakers class? Ask your instructor for a modification.
- Take breaks from repetitive movements and positions. Open and close your hands a few times to improve circulation.
- Avoid sleeping with bent wrists, which can compress the wrists and cause pain. A better sleeping position: with neutral or straight wrists.
If You Felt Pain, Tingling, or Numbness in Your Fingers
That’s a sign you may be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a passageway in the wrist, and it allows the median nerve—which starts at the neck and runs the length of your arm—to pass through to your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is what happens when this nerve is compressed or squeezed at the wrist.
There’s no clear cause for carpal tunnel syndrome, but some people have a higher risk: women, older adults, and people with diabetes or arthritis.
Your next step: Talk to your doctor, who can determine if the problem is carpal tunnel syndrome or something else. The sooner you can get a proper diagnosis and action plan, the better. To make your conversation easier, jot down your symptoms:
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- Where you are experiencing the pain
- When the pain started and how often it occurs
- Any other symptoms you are experiencing, like if your hands fall asleep or things slip from your fingers
If You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or a Condition That Affects Your Wrists
Afraid to move with carpal tunnel syndrome? It turns out, movement and other lifestyle changes can ease pain. Work with your doctor to get the treatment you need, plus check out these four ways to relieve carpal tunnel pain.
If you have a different condition that affects your wrists, your doctor can help you find the right fitness plan. Ask these three questions:
- What types of exercise are appropriate for me?
- How often and how much should I do them?
- Are there precautions or steps I should take? If you have arthritis, check out the dos and don’ts of exercising with arthritis.
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