When you’re experiencing hand and wrist pain, you likely have carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition mainly involves the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a slender tunnel comprising the wrist’s bones and other tissues, and which is responsible for protecting the median nerve. It’s crucial to remember that the median nerve is responsible for moving the first three fingers and the thumb of each hand. Let’s see living with carpal tunnel syndrome.
When you develop the condition, the tendons and ligaments in the carpal tunnel swell or get inflamed, such that they end up compressing the median nerve.
The pressure is the reason why your hand becomes sore or feels numb. The condition isn’t generally serious. With proper treatment, the pain will subside, and you’ll have no permanent damage to your hand or wrist. If you suspect the condition and you’re eager to find out about treatment options, checking out Dickinsonneurosurgery and other reputable healthcare professionals would help.
The best way to make the condition manageable while maintaining control over your life is to be familiar with various aspects of carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are some of the crucial things you need to know about the condition:
1. Indications Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The typical signs of carpal tunnel syndrome include the following:
- Tingling sensation or numbness in your hand and fingers, particularly the thumb, middle, and index fingers
- Pain or discomfort in the palm, wrist, or forearm. In most cases, rubbing or shaking your hand can provide relief.
- Increasing pain or numbness at night time than during the day. It can be disruptive enough to wake you up.
- Discomfort when using your hand or wrist more than usual
- Difficulty holding objects, such as the steering wheel or doorknob
- Thumb feels weak
2. Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Performing the same hand and wrist movements can put you at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition is prevalent among individuals whose jobs involve gripping or pinching with the wrist in a bent position. Those at high risk include carpenters, assembly-line workers, musicians, meat packers, mechanics, grocery checkers, and office workers who use computers most of the time. Even hobbies such as needlework, gardening, canoeing, and golfing can often trigger the symptoms.
When it comes to gender, women are more prone to developing the condition than men. Carpal tunnel syndrome seems to be hereditary.
It can also be due to an injury in the wrist, such as a fracture. In some cases, the cause can be certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, or diabetes. Additionally, among women, the condition is likely to manifest during the last few months of pregnancy among women.
3. Ways To Cope With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Other conditions strikingly mimic the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. With this in mind, it’s best to see your doctor first to get a diagnosis. In most cases, conservative treatment is usually enough during the initial phases of the condition.
Many people decide to set aside surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. If you’re going to make the same choice, it’s crucial to follow a self-treatment plan. Remember that the condition is likely to lead to lasting muscle and nerve damage in your hand and wrist if you fail to follow care remedies.
Here are some of the measures that you can do when living with carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Use a splint or brace on your wrist at nighttime and during certain times throughout the day. Many people tend to sleep with the wrist in a flexed position, only to wake up the next day with numbness.
- Try to shake your hands and hang over the side of the bed at night.
- Make the necessary changes to your workspace to ensure that your hands and wrists are in proper alignment in a neutral position. It’s best to elevate your desk chair or adjust the height of your computer’s keyboard. Additionally, you can utilize a cushioned pad under the heel of your hand.
- Use an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Both can lessen the discomfort and minimize the swelling. Ensure that you’ll consult with your doctor first to make certain that there are no medical reasons that you have to avoid using the pain medications. Additionally, carefully follow the dosage instructions.
- When engaging in any repetitive task that strains your hands and wrists, ensure that you’ll maintain the proper alignment of the hands and wrists and make the necessary adjustments.
- Take regular breaks from any activity that triggers discomfort in your hand and wrist.
- Perform stretching exercises for your hand and wrist daily to improve grip strength and lessen the tightness.
- Hold a cold pack on your wrist at least twice a day to help lessen the inflammation and provide relief by decompressing the median nerve. If you don’t have any symptom, an application of ten minutes every hour is enough. Alternate the cold with warm water soaks. Immerse your hand in warm water three or four times a day while rotating and flexing the wrist gently.
- Steroid injection. The right move is to seek the guidance of a doctor first about this option. Corticosteroids can briefly provide relief for weeks or months by minimizing the swelling in the wrists and reducing pressure on the median nerve.
Until the symptoms settle, it’s best to stop the activity that’s contributing to the condition. When these home remedies can’t provide adequate relief to the symptoms, physical therapy might help.
Surgery is always an option that could provide relief in most cases. A surgical procedure involves slicing the tissue band in the wrist that moves over the median nerve to reduce the pressure. The surgical procedures can range from extensive to minimally invasive, and has around 90-95% success rate in eliminating the numbness and pain.
4. Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
During your appointment, the doctor will ask about the symptoms you’re experiencing. The doctor may assess you and ask how you use your hands. As part of the evaluation, the doctor performs the following:
- The doctor may tap the interior side of your wrist. You might feel discomfort or a sensation similar to an electric shock.
- The doctor will request you to bend your wrist down for a minute to check if it triggers symptoms.
The electromyography (EMG) test might also be part of your assessment. The doctor requires this test to determine if the nerves and muscles in your arm and hand show the usual effects of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Luckily, there are several measures you can consider to prevent the condition from developing in the first place. Here are some actions to help prevent it:
- Try to cut down weight if you’re close to being overweight.
- Seek treatment for any condition that can put you at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- When engaging in repetitive activities using your hands, try to avoid bending, twisting, or extending your hands for extended periods. Additionally, try to switch hands during the activity.
- Avoid working with your arms too far or too close to your body.
- As much as possible, avoid resting your hands and wrists on hard surfaces for long periods.
- Depending on the activity you’re working on and the necessary tools, make sure that the tools aren’t too large for your hands.
Wen carpal tunnel syndrome is due to a medical condition, the doctor will manage that problem first. In most cases, the doctor will instruct you to rest your wrist or make changes to how you are using your hand.
A wrist splint or brace is usually a recommended option. The splint works by preventing the wrist from moving, all while allowing your hand to function normally. A splint will surely come in handy in reducing the pain, especially at night.
An over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) can help lessen the pain and swelling. In severe cases where the symptoms can be debilitating, the doctor might suggest a shot of corticosteroid, which minimizes the pain and inflammation.
For those who want effective relief, surgery could be the last option to ensure that the symptoms won’t manifest any longer. The surgery involves cutting the ligament pressing on the median nerve. In most cases, you can resume the regular use of your hand and wrist a few weeks to months after the surgical procedure.
Ensure that you’ll carefully follow the hand, wrist, and finger exercises that your doctor instructs you to perform after the surgery. Lack of proper training will allow your wrist to stiffen, and you might even lose some hand function.
For those who constantly use their hand and wrist, whether at work or home, putting them under repetitive strain can put you at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Once you start to experience discomfort or any unusual sensations in your hand and wrist, you may be developing the condition.
If you happen to develop the condition, there are various ways to cope. A life with carpal tunnel syndrome can be manageable by learning what the condition is all about, as well as the measures to help ease the symptoms. With the help of these measures, you can continue with your regular life in the best way possible.