Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain in the hands. If you use your hands all the time, you may have already experienced this condition. It is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of the hand. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand specifically the palm side of the thumb, index/pointer finger, and middle finger. We can help without surgery!
Who is at risk for getting carpal tunnel syndrome?
- Workplace factors. Any repetitive work with extended or forced flexing of the wrist can put pressure on the median nerve. Forceful and constant finger or wrist movement such as typing, working on an assembly line, pressing keys such as on a cash register, and vibrating tools such as a drill can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Working in a particularly cold room may also cause problems.
- Gender: women are more at risk than men because women have more narrow carpal tunnels.
- Activities: Playing the guitar, piano, writing, or typing.
- Fluid shifts: increased fluid retention from pregnancy, menopause, thyroid disease, lymphedema, liver cirrhosis, kidney failure, can reduce the space in the tunnel.
- Diabetes: nerve damage is more common.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: inflammation of joint capsules, tendons, and ligaments can restrict the tunnel space.
How to reduce the risks to developing carpal tunnel syndrome and home therapies?
- Relax your hand grip: if your work involves a cash register or keyboard, for instance, hit the keys softly. If you do prolonged handwriting, use a bigger pen with an oversized, soft grip adapter and free-flowing ink.
- Take short, frequent breaks with hand activity: Gently stretch and bend hands and wrists periodically. Alternate tasks when possible, do something else. This is especially important if you use equipment that vibrates or that requires you to exert a great amount of force. Even a few minutes every hour can make a difference.
- Exercise and Stretch Your Wrists: You can do quick wrist exercises while you’re standing in line at the grocery store or sitting at your desk at work. For example, make a fist and then slide your fingers until they are straight again. Repeat this action 5 to 10 times. This can help relieve any pressure on your wrist.
- Wear splints on your wrists: Keeping your wrists straight can help relieve the pressure on your median nerve. Symptoms are more common at night, so wearing a splint in the evening may help relieve your symptoms before they start. If you have issues with repetitive tasks at work, you can also wear wrist splints during the day. A relaxed middle position is best. Keep your keyboard at elbow height or slightly lower.
- Keep your hands elevated: remedy is particularly effective if your CTS is caused by pregnancy, fractures, or other issues with fluid retention.
- Change your computer mouse: Make sure that your computer mouse is comfortable and doesn’t strain your wrist. Use a wrist rest.
- Keep your hands warm: If you can’t control the temperature at work, put on fingerless gloves that keep your hands and wrists warm.
- OTC medications: Try ibuprofen or naproxen oral medications to reduce inflammation or menthol topical application.
Proper treatment usually relieves the tingling and numbness and restores wrist and hand function. If the conservative treatments are not working or if the pain, numbness, and weakness are constant or become intolerable, please consider consulting with the experts at Southwest Pain Management. We can help treat this problem without surgery. With ultrasound needle guidance, the ligament tissue can be broken up and seperated from the nerve without any danger to the median nerve. There is no recovery time or pain after this 15 minute procedure. Best of all, it is covered by your insurance!