Yoga for relief in carpal tunnel syndrome

Yoga expert Umesh Dwivedi on how yoga exercises can help relieve pain in carpal tunnel syndrome, which manifests as numbness, tingling pain, and weakness in the thumb and fingers

Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS is numbness, tingling pain, and weakness in the thumb, index and middle fingers as a result of the median nerve being irritated at the wrist. It occurs when people perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. Radiating pain in the arm and shoulder, rushing or darting pains from the wrist can also be symptoms.

Causes of CTS:
The median nerve provides sensation to the thumb and other fingers. When this nerve is pressed due to a swelling of the nerve or tendons, CTS occurs. Common causes are arthritis or congenital factors such as smaller carpal tunnel, wrist fractures and overuse injuries such as wrong posture or repetitive motion.

Initial treatment usually includes rest, immobilisation of the wrist in a splint, and occasionally ice application. Try modifying some activities such as adjusting your computer keyboard and chair height to optimise comfort. Give rest to the wrists and attempt exercise that increases the range of motion of the wrist.

Yoga for CTS:
Yoga postures help in increasing range of motion for joints and helps develop alignments and flexibilities. Improved joint posture reduces compression of the affected nerve. Systematic twisting and stretching reduces pain and works as a pain killer. Research conducted in America in 1998 concluded that patients who undertook an eight-week period of yoga practice showed good results compared to a group who did not do yoga.

Yoga postures like mountain pose or tadasana, cow face pose or gomukhasana, eagle pose or garudasana, bow pose or dhanurasana improve blood circulation and increase muscle strength of the wrist area. Stretches like prayer position (Anjali mudra), extending wrists and fingers back, keeping fists clenched and bending wrists downwards are also good for wrist movement and pain relief.

Your shoulder should not be ahead or in front of your wrist while performing certain asanas. The centre of gravity should always be passing through both your hands vertically. In surya namaskar -- from chatturanga to urdhva mukha svanasana -- elbows should be touching your body. Avoid most arm balance asanas like chakrasana until the wrist is back to normal. However, do the asanas only under a trained yoga practitioner.

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