Yoga helps many people relieve tension, stress, and fatigue often caused by the rigors of the workplace. New research suggests that yoga can be used to treat another work-related health problem: carpal tunnel syndrome. A recent University of Pennsylvania study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that Iyengar-style classes conducted twice weekly for eight weeks significantly reduced pain and improved grip strength among carpal tunnel patients.
Common in jobs where employees must continually repeat movements with their fingers, hands, and wrists, carpal tunnel syndrome is thought to result from nerve compression in the wrists, often causing such discomfort that workers can’t perform their jobs.
The researchers designed a yoga sequence to strengthen, stretch, and balance all the joints in the upper body – especially the wrists, arms, and shoulders, and propose that yoga helps because it eases the compression of the affected nerves, improves blood flow, and creates better joint posture.
Yoga’s success in combating carpal tunnel symptoms should be good news for sufferers and employers alike. Career-related health conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome cost workers more in lost earnings than any other illnesses; such conditions cost businesses, too, through higher medical expenses and decreased productivity. The Penn study suggests that yoga may be cheaper and more effective than the injection therapy, surgery, drugs, and wrist splints currently used to treat the syndrome. Researchers also believe yoga may discourage recurrence and help prevent the original onset of carpal tunnel symptoms.