If you spend most of the time working on your computer or on tasks that require using your hands, you can be prone to having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. We may hear it already, as well as the possible impacts it can bring to your health. Besides, it can also influence your work performance in terms of quality and productivity. The good thing is that despite the effects CTS can bring, there are also Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatments available nowadays.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Mayo Clinic defines Carpal Tunnel Syndrome “to be caused by the pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm.”
Several factors contribute to the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, such as the anatomy of the wrist, nature of the jobs, repetitive activities, and other health problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Some of the usual signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include weakness of the hands, tingling, and numbness. The tingling and numbness sensation may start from the wrist and then extend to the arms. Often with numbness, the most affected are the index, middle, and ring fingers.
You might be wondering what causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. There is only one reason: too much pressure on the median nerve.
Mayo Clinic explains:
“The median nerve runs from your forearm through a passageway in your wrist (carpal tunnel) to your hand. It provides sensation to the palm side of your thumb and fingers, except the little finger. It also provides nerve signals to move the muscles around the base of your thumb (motor function).
Anything that squeezes or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A wrist fracture can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve, as can the swelling and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.”
The leading health resource website also added that having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a combination of various risk factors that may be due to work trends and personal lifestyles.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments: Interesting Things to Know
You may feel the effects of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome slowly and then worsen over time, especially when neglected. That is why it is important to treat it early so that you can recover quickly. The most conventional treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, according to Mayo Clinic, are the following: wrist brace, surgery, and physical therapy.
Doctors recommend two kinds of Carpal Tunnel syndrome surgeries: endoscopic and open surgery. Both operations require cutting the ligaments around the carpal tunnel to remove the pressure from the median nerve. Both procedures will also help relieve pain. In open surgery, a larger incision or cut is needed – measuring up to 2” from your wrist to the palm. On the other hand, endoscopic surgery will require one opening in the wrist. The surgeon may also make one in the arm. Compared to open surgery, the cuts in endoscopic surgery measure half-inch each. He uses a tiny camera in one opening, so there will be a guide when cutting the ligament.
Some risks that you can have due to surgery may include bleeding, a scar that can be hurtful when touched, damage to the median nerve, and being prone to infection.
Since the openings are smaller in endoscopic surgery, you will heal faster and will experience less pain. Before undergoing any operation, make sure to consult your doctor about which one will be best for you.
#2 Wrist Brace
Some people tend to bend their wrists while they are sleeping. That way, they are putting pressure on the median nerve. Using a wrist brace can be a big help since it can keep your wrist in its neutral position. A study conducted in 2012 revealed that using a wrist brace at night or sleeping can help relieve carpal tunnel syndrome. This is proven effective and may help not to undergo any surgery to relieve pain due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Of course, you can also use a wrist brace during the day. This is ideal while at work, so your Carpal Tunnel will not get worse even if there are repeated movements or strains on your wrists.
Make sure to keep moving your wrists after taking off your brace. Doing so will help keep your muscles strong and loose. As always, get rid of putting too much force and stress on your wrists.
You can get a wrist brace, also known as ‘splint’ in drug stores or stores offering medical supplies. An occupational therapist can help you find and choose the best one for you. The splint should be comfortable to wear- not too tight on your wrists- to ensure you're not putting too much pressure on the carpal tunnel and wrist.
#3 Physical Therapy
One way to ease the effects of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is by physical therapy. A physical therapist (PT) is a medical professional who can help lessen the pain and aid in regaining mobility and strength. When treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a PT may recommend some specialized types of exercises that will focus on tendons and nerves. The goal of these exercises is to promote mobility and reduce pain.
According to Healthline.com, there are nine home remedies that you can do to relieve pain due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Here are those for you to check:
- Take breaks to rest from repetitive tasks
- Reduce the force you’re using when you feel tired of writing, typing and other activities
- Make sure to wear splints on your wrists
- Keep your wrists as neutral as possible
- Keep your hands warm to ease pain and stiffness
- Do some stretchings for your hands and fingers
- Take some pain relief medications
- Use over-the-counter medicines
- Elevate your wrists and hands as much as possible
Your medical doctor can also recommend other medicines or surgeries to get rid of pressure and pain. Another tip to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is to use ergonomic accessories such as an ergonomic vertical mouse.