Wrist Pain and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Wrist Pain and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Wrist pain can occur in those lifting weights & is a common work related injury. This is because overuse & repetitive compression of the several small wrist bones in unnatural positions, cause inflammation. Incorrect technique & positioning at the gym places the wrist under excessive stress, particularly in exercises such as high planks,pushups, bench press,& any exercises overloading the wrist with increased weight while in extension, will cause irritation. 

The wrist may also overcompensate for shoulder weakness, for example, as the forearm muscles will be doing more of the work. Wrist pain from weight lifting is more often due to strained tendons or ligaments & changing to lower impact workout as soon as mild pain is noted, may be enough to prevent further damage. In contact sports where falling onto an outstretched hand is common, wrist pain is more likely due to a fracture. If pain becomes severe or exceeds 2 weeks, or the wrist becomes swollen, medical attention should be sought. 

The most common wrist injury is CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME, which is often work related, although becoming more common.in weight lifters, & research has shown genetics play a part. Connective tissue in the wrist becomes inflamed & compresses the median nerve,interfering with sensory nerve transmission from the hand to the central nervous system. If left untreated, this nerve compression can cause the nerve to become locked within the due to scarring, thus reducing range of motion further. Fluid pressure will also increase due to thickening of the synovial tissue in the carpal tunnel.


 - genetic predisposition 

- women between 40 & 60

 - excessive & repetitive use of hands for work eg sculptors, surgeons, hairdressers, computer operators

 - those working with vibrating tools

 - increased risk with pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, menopause, arthritis and wrist fractures & dislocation 


 - pain, particularly on thumb side of hand & wrist

 - numbness & tingling, particularly on thumb side

 - increased pain at night

 - pain may extend up arm

 - reduced manual dexterity

 - reduced grip strength

 - difficulty performing repetitive movements eg.using computer 

- burning sensation in thumb,index & middle fingers

 - in chronic cases, the muscles below the thumb may atrophy 


 - stop exercises/movements that cause pain or involve extension to prevent further inflammation

 - apply ice daily

 - wear a splint to keep wrist in neutral position & reduce pressure on joint

 - cortisone injections 

- massage to forearm muscles to ease any tightness

 - stretching exercises once inflammation has subsided 

- for future workouts strap wrist with sports tape & maintain neutral wrist position eg. For push ups use knuckles to push up on, keeping the wrists straight

 - wear well padded lifting gloves when weight lifting

 - place hands & wrists in warm water before going to gym

 - surgery to relieve pressure on nerve 


 - focus on flexion & extension, pronation & supination

 - squeeze & roll theraputty for 10 mins a day

 - farmers walks

- walk 50 - 100 ft holding dumbells at side of body(palms inwards) to improve endurance and grip strength

 - hold dumbell in underhanded grip,keeping forearm on thigh, allow dumbell to lower over the knee with wrist relaxed, then lift dumbell back as high as possible, not moving forearm