Whether you are a professional guitar player, play the guitar for fun, or are just beginning your guitar-playing journey with a passion to learn, music is a great outlet for relieving stress and expressing yourself. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind in relation to playing the guitar and maintaining your health as a guitar player. Although it may sound a little silly, there is a connection between your health and body and your ability to play the guitar. In this case, we are focusing on carpal tunnel.
In this article, we will take a look at what carpal tunnel is, if guitar playing can cause carpal tunnel, and how to treat and address carpal tunnel.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
First and foremost, it is important to understand what exactly carpal tunnel syndrome is. This syndrome develops when the median nerve that is located in your forearm, to the palm of your hand, squeezes in your wrist.
Carpal tunnel consists of bones and ligaments in a narrow “tunnel” located at the base of your hand and helps to bend your fingers. It also allows feelings and sensations in your hand’s palm and fingers, except for the little finger, and is responsible for controlling a few little muscles at the base of your thumb.
When you develop carpal tunnel, the ligaments and tendons on the area become thicker than normal. This narrows the tunnel in the area and the median nerve compresses and squeezes.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel include:
- Swollen and useless feelings in fingers
Symptoms usually appear gradually. They are felt in the palm of the hand and the fingers, which often include the thumb, middle finger, and index finger. Your symptoms can begin in one hand, but can also develop in both hands at the same time.
Frequently, the first symptoms of carpal tunnel happen at night, but as the condition progresses, these symptoms will happen during the day as well. Eventually, you will find it hard to grip objects and hold items with your affected hand.
Can Playing Guitar Cause Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel develops when someone uses their hands in a repetitive motion most days. Typing on a computer, bakers and chefs, assembly line workers, cashiers, and musicians are just a few examples of ways that people often develop carpal tunnel.
Since repetitive motion can raise your risk of getting carpal tunnel, playing the guitar can also increase your risk, as using your hands and fingers to play the guitar is a highly repetitive motion.
Women are also more likely to develop carpal tunnel, so if you are a female guitar playing your odds of developing carpal tunnel from guitar playing is even higher.
How to Treat Carpal Tunnel?
There are a wide variety of ways to treat carpal tunnel. There are both natural and at-home remedies, plus conventional remedies that require a doctor. If you are in search of ways to help treat and manage your carpal tunnel at home and in a natural way, there are a few options to try. Some medical professionals suggest the following:
- Stop activity when you feel pain arise
- Take frequent breaks from activity
- Keep wrist in a neutral position
- Adjust the way you hold an object if holding for a long time
- Relax your grip when holding something
You can also engage in regular physical activity and perform exercises that use your hand and wrist muscles to help strengthen the area. Studies suggest this can help mild carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other remedies you can try are alternative therapies. Yoga can help improve your symptoms through stretching and strength training. Certain hand therapy techniques may be used to improve the symptoms and physical therapy is often suggested.
Ultrasound therapy is another common treatment. During this treatment, the affected area is heated which is believed to help with recovery and reduce the pain in the affected hand. Acupuncture and chiropractors can also help with carpal tunnel in some people.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to the treatment, so finding which option works the best for you may take time and experimentation. Speaking with your doctor about the options that are right for your condition is imperative. Playing guitar is a meaningful part of your life. Taking care of your health will ensure you can continue to play the guitar for many wonderful years to come.