Median nerve entrapment, also known as carpal tunnel syndrome, may not be known as a sports injury, but in fact the condition can be caused by activities such as swinging a squash or tennis racket. Symptoms commonly include numbness and tingling in the hands or wrist, and pain when moving the fingers or hand. You also may feel weak when you try to carry bags, and as though you are losing fine muscle coordination in your fingers.
The median nerve runs through your wrist and to parts of your hand, including the palm, thumb and some of your fingers. When the carpal tunnel (where the nerve runs through the wrist to the hand) becomes inflamed due to swelling from repetitive motions, it can put pressure on this nerve, causing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you think your median nerve has become entrapped, your physician can make sure this is the correct diagnosis. He or she will examine your hand and wrist to see where and when you feel pain, numbness and tingling. You may also undergo tests, such as wrist X-rays, to rule out other causes of your pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can decrease swelling and improve your symptoms. Treatment measures include exercises to strengthen and stretch your hand and wrists. Yoga also tends to improve hand and wrist function. In some cases, however, surgery to reduce pressure on the median nerve is necessary to heal carpal tunnel syndrome.
Once you’ve recovered from carpal tunnel syndrome, prevent it from coming back by increasing your activity (such as playing tennis) gradually, and by continuing to stretch and strengthen your hand and wrist. You may also want to consult an expert to improve your grip or swing to reduce strain on your wrist.