Gary Brazina (Sports Medicine Physician) gives expert video advice on: What is 'carpal tunnel syndrome'?; How do some athletes develop 'carpal tunnel syndrome'?; How is 'carpal tunnel syndrome' treated in athletes?
What is 'carpal tunnel syndrome'?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression syndrome of the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is an anatomic area at the wrist. The carpal tunnel is made up of three sides of bone, the carpal bones, and on top of it is the transverse carpal ligament, a thick fibrous ligament. Through the carpal tunnel runs eight tendons that flex the wrist, and the median nerve, which supplies sensation at this level to the radial three-and-a-half digits. That happens through overuse, most commonly from typing, using the computer mouse, we see it in cashiers, and it becomes an overuse where there is compression of the nerve.
How do some athletes develop 'carpal tunnel syndrome'?
Athletes can develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from repetitive use of the hand. Most commonly we see it when they are weight bearing on the hands. It is very common in bicyclists and in mountain bikers because of the amount of weight they have on the hand with the wrist bent back. That is why frequently, for example, in the Tour de France or in bicycle races, you'll see the rider supporting his weight forward on the handlebars by using the supports that hold the forearm as opposed to the hand.
How is 'carpal tunnel syndrome' treated in athletes?
Carpal tunnel syndrome in athletes can be treated by changing the way you're holding a racket, or the amount of weight you're putting on your hands. Commonly it is worse at night, so we recommend using wrist splints at night. The main way to prevent it is by using non-steroidal inflammatories, and also by changing the way you're holding a barbell or holding the handle bars of your bike.