T Nation

Lifting with Carpal Tunnel


Hey guys, I've contemplated making this for some time now.

Has anyone here had to train while having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? I got it when I was younger and sedentary, and it doesn't really go away.

What's even worse is lately, on a lot of movements (just about any curl movement, rowing movements, even some pressing movements) I have an extremely difficult time keeping my grip because my wrist simply can't hold on.

I know it doesn't help that my gym uses tapered dumbbells, but I'm fighting through however I can. Straps, wrist wraps, what have you.

Anyway, just looking for other peoples' experiences possibly being afflicted with it. Ways to train around, etc.

***Also, if you don't know what CTS is, PLEASE do some fucking research first and don't come back saying "Get your grip strength up brah!" It doesn't work like that.


CTS is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, since the Carpal Tunnel itself is rather narrow, swelling can easily pinch a nerve or cause numbness. It kinda sounds like you've waited too long to deal with it. I recall hearing that advance stages of CTS require surgery to actually relieve it; whereas, mild would take a couple weeks.

You could definitely still give earlier treatments a try- Early treatments can be as simple as Ice and Splits. Resting/stretching the ROM of the wrist periodically. Nutritionally, i believe Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, or anti inflammatorys were shown to help subjects in studies. Ive also seen a hand grip for lifting around, http://www.newgrip.com/carpal_tunnel_syndrome.html


A good ART practitioner could really help you.


SSC, I feel your pain. CTS sucks!! I just started getting the symptoms about 3-4 months ago. Even though I haven't had it that long, when I got my EMG test done it said that I had severe nerve damage in both arms between my wrist and elbow and most people are recommending surgery. It seemed like it started a few weeks after I started olympic lifting.

I remember the first signs were my hand getting numb for a few seconds after my heavier sets of OH squats. Eventually my first three fingers on both hands were constantly numb.

Im not sure if it's the oly lifting that caused it or a combination of things. I don't think sleeping on my hands at night for probably a year or more and waking up having them feeling extremely numb helped either. I think it's probably a combination of everything I do..

Sleep on my hands at night (I wear splints at night now though), wake up and lift, go to work at trader joe's where I'm on the register for 4-5 hours a day and we have to take every item out of everyone's cart/basket and ring it up, and then go home and go on the computer for a couple hours and repeat the process all over again.

I'm not really sure what to do. I might try taking a week off of work and focus on working on my legs and stay away from Oly/upper body lifting.

Any advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. - For those who have gotten ART, how many sessions did it take for you to notice some relief? I got ART once and noticed an immediate relief for a short time but then the numbness returned to normal.

SSC - sorry if I hijacked your thread at all. I'm just sort of thinking out loud and figured I'd share my experience. Hope you get your issue resolved or at least alleviated. Also I've been taking this nerve support formula with a bunch or B vitamins for about a week now and I think that is helping some.


Go get it fixed by a hand specialist. You will be out for at least a month but then it will be done.

And use your other hand when you fap. :slight_smile: Gators suck. :stuck_out_tongue:


Definitely one of the more problematic things I have had to deal with. Mine started coming on four to five months ago. Wasn't lifting or anything else similar to cause it. Was setting a an extremely bad work station for 9 to 13 days a week banging on a computer most of the time. Presented as shooting pain from my fingertips to my shoulder. I thought I had a torn rotater. But then it started in the other hand as well and I began loosing feeling in the thumb and first three fingers as well. X-rays and MRI of the shoulder and C5-C6 are of the next were fine. A few more tests lead to an EMG that should Severe CTS in both hands with nerve damage. I went to an ART specialist several times. Helped an old shoulder issue but did nothing for the carpal tunnel.

Bottom line, I am scheduled for surgery next week. Wish there was an alternative, but continued nerve damage can lead to permanent loss of feeling and ultimate loss of the use of you thumb. Not something you want to mess around with.

Good luck to you. If interested, I will post my experience with surgery and the subsequent recovery. Also, If anyone else had had CTS surgery, who did it affect your ability to lift and play other sports. How long till full recovery if you reached full recovery. Any input would be helpful.


Hey man. Just saw this reply. Yea I'm definitely interested in your surgery experience. I'll most likely have to get the surgery too. I actually just talked to a hand specialist for an hour over the phone about CT surgery.

I've tried a lot of things to help it and it definitely doesn't FEEL as bad as it used to but I still have constant numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers. The doc I talked to had almost nothing but good things to say about getting the surgery since my case is severe. I've just heard so many other people say bad things about the surgery and to avoid it at all costs.

What else have you tried besides ART?
Which surgery are you getting, endoscopic or open?
Have you tried getting a corticosteroid injection? (Doc says it might help but will almost surely be temporary relief instead of really fixing the problem since it's severe) I Still wanna try that first if possible though.

Good luck to you as well. I'm also interested in what the recovery was like for other people and if there grip strength ever returned to normal.

Thanks for sharing.


Sorry for late response. Just saw the post.

Unfortunately, I have little good news to report. I am four weeks out of CTS surgery and so far regretting the decision. While the feeling has returned to the fingers of my left hand, if anything my right hand has gotten worse.

No improvement in the numbness. Also, by late afternoon my hand and lower arm (right) begins to ache and throb. It is worse than the pain pre surgery and nothing seems to help it. Numbness in fingers is no better at best and truly seems to be worse.

I was told that there would be no loss of stability in either hand. So far I call bullshit. The carpal band spans the base of the hand and palm and gives you the structure and strength of your hand. You do not notice it till it is gone. Simply leaning forward on a desk or chair is very uncomfortable. If I were to have to push myself up in some fashion, ie dip, pushup, I would not be able to.

I would love to return to working out now. As it stands, there is no way this can happen as of yet. I have bought special workout gloves and try to check my hands every few days. No go.

Maybe I am the exception to the rule, but knowing then what I know now there is no way in hell I would do the surgery. I will update you if and when improvement occurs.