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What is Carpal Tunnel and Why Do Crocheters Get It?

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Guest Blogger, Leah Fisher, has written a wonderful blog article to help those of us crocheters who deal with the frustrations of having carpal tunnel syndrome. Take a look at her perspective and suggestions below. Thank you, Leah, for your fantastic contribution!

What is Carpal Tunnel and Why Do Crocheters Get It?

Carpal Tunnel is a repetitive strain injury where the medial nerve in your wrist is compressed. What causes this compression? Inflammation and swelling around the medial nerve. We (the
medical community) used to think this was due solely to repetitive work but have since found that you can get carpal tunnel without ever having done repetitive work. So why do those who
crochet get carpal tunnel? You have constant motion in your wrist while crocheting as well as you might also be holding the hook with too much tension. There are other medical issues that
can be the underlying causes (or increased risks) of developing carpal tunnel, such as diabetes, fluid retention, arthritis and high blood pressure just to name a few. Let’s not forget
all the pregnant women out there that usually always at some point have fluid retention causing swelling of the wrist in turn causing a temporary carpal tunnel. Once they have given birth the
carpal tunnel most likely will resolve without further treatment.

How do you know if you have carpal tunnel? The tell tell signs are numbness or tingling in the thumb, index finger and middle finger. You may also have pain in your hand when you try to
grip something such as when crocheting. Last but not least you may experience weakness in your hand.

So, what can we do to prevent this? Unfortunately, there is no one thing you can do to prevent carpal tunnel, but you can keep it from getting worse and requiring surgical repair.

• If you work in a job that requires repetitive wrist movement be conscious of how much stress you are putting on your wrists and how much you are bending them; you may be able to find ways to lessen this.
• Do hand exercises several times a day: make a fist, fan out your fingers 5-10 times each time you do the exercises.
• Keep your wrists as straight as possible at all times
• When we sleep we tend to bend our wrists, increasing pressure on the nerve and causing swelling. Sleeping with a rigid wrist splint every night will prevent this.
• Wear a flexible wrist splint during the day, this more than anything makes you more conscious of your wrist movements. Again you can purchase this at any drug store.

What specifically can crocheters do?
• All of the above and:
• Use soft round ergonomic crochet hooks rather than the thin metal ones.
• Try not to bend your wrist as much as possible when crocheting.
• Wear the splints.

What can you do if you already think you have carpal tunnel? Basically, the same things as you would do to try to prevent it, but I would also suggest seeing your physician to make sure
nothing else is going on. If they think you have carpal tunnel they will most likely refer you to a hand specialist who can do a nerve test to see how advanced the carpal tunnel is and if
surgery is likely going to be required.

I hope this helps everyone out there suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Leah Fisher, RN (Retired)

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