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Exercises for Guyon's Canal Syndrome

by
author image Christy Callahan
Christy Callahan has been researching and writing in the integrative health care field for over five years, focusing on neuro-endocrinology. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, earned credits toward a licensure in traditional Chinese medicine and is a certified Pilates and sport yoga instructor.
Exercises for Guyon's Canal Syndrome
Doctor examines a patient's wrist for Guyon's canal syndrome. Photo Credit KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Professional drivers and motorcyclists can suffer from Guyon's canal syndrome, which often occurs due to vibration from the road. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, Guyon's canal stems from compression of a nerve in your arm. You might feel pain or numbness in the outside of your palm or in your ring and pinky fingers. If you have this syndrome, your doctor may recommend a brace and rest. Eliminating potential causes and stretching exercises can also help reduce pain.

Guyon's Canal Syndrome

Your wrist has "tunnels" or "canals" through which some nerves and blood vessels pass. Guyon's canal is located along the lower edge of your palm, on the little finger side of your hand. Your ulnar nerve and artery run through this canal, where the nerve splits into two terminal branches that go on into your palm, ring and little fingers. Compression or entrapment of the ulnar nerve at the canal leads to pain, tingling and numbness in the left side of your palm and in your ring and little fingers.

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Eliminating Causes

The first step in recovery from Guyon's canal syndrome is to eliminate the causes of nerve compression; reduce or stop activities that exacerbate symptoms. Wrist or arm trauma and cysts can put pressure on this nerve, as can tight muscles from overuse. Jobs that require heavy gripping, twisting and repeated wrist and hand motions can lead to muscle tightness and irritation of the ulnar nerve. Working with your hand bent down and outward can squeeze the nerve inside Guyon's canal. This syndrome is common in cyclists, drivers and weightlifters, likely from the pressure of gripping handlebars and steering wheels amidst vibration.

Wrist Flexion and Extension Exercise

Certain exercises can help the ulnar nerve slide through Guyon's tunnel more easily, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, potentially reducing pain. One such exercise begins with your arm stretched in front of you and your elbow straight. Flex your wrist and fingers toward your body, then extend them away from you. Slowly bend your elbow, keeping your fingers extended, and bring your wrist in toward your shoulder. Repeat the exercise up to five times, three or four times per day.

Side Wrist Flexion

Another exercise that may help reduce symptoms is a wrist flexion exercise performed to the side of your body. Stretch your arm straight out to the side and flex your wrist. Curl your fingers toward your shoulder before turning your palm face-up. Once the palm is up, gently stretch your head and neck toward the opposite shoulder. You should feel a stretching sensation in the elbow side of your arm. Repeat the exercise on the other arm.

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