Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, More Common Than You Think
Experiencing pain, soreness, numbness, swollen feeling or a loss of strength in your hand and fingers? If yes, then you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. What is this syndrome and how does it affect you? Read on to find out.
A condition that is best treated early, carpal tunnel syndrome affects your hands and fingers by causing them to become numb, tingly or outright painful even after moderate work. If left untreated, the syndrome can persist and affect your productivity for a few days at least.
If you work nine to five, then don’t let this problem persist too long or you may be seeing a loss of hours on your next pay stub. Save yourself the trouble by treating your carpal tunnel syndrome right away. How can you do that? HealthFaire will provide you the details and provide you a solid understanding of carpal tunnel syndrome, its causes, and the limitations it brings.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Our hands are susceptible to repetitive strain injuries. Considering that we spend a considerable amount of time each day operating a computer or smartphone, this should not come as a surprise. A repetitive strain injury affecting your hands, carpal tunnel syndrome causes a pinch or compression in the median nerve running through the carpal tunnel, leading to pain, numbness, weakness or tingling in the hand. Does this sound familiar? If so, continue reading to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome.
A narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrists, the carpal tunnel is comprised of bones and ligaments. It is the passageway for the median nerve—the nerve controlling the movement and sensation in the thumb and first three fingers. In addition to the median nerve, the tendons to the thumb and fingers also pass through the carpal tunnel.
What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Following are symptoms you need to look out for to detect carpal tunnel syndrome.
Pain and Tingling
We love taking advice from our best friends, but if your best friend is telling you that carpal tunnel syndrome occurs suddenly or out of the blue, ignore them. Contrary to what your best friend says, CT syndrome develops gradually. You may first notice this syndrome in the night or after waking up in the morning as a feeling of tingling and numbness in your hand or fingers.
Typically, you will feel pain and tingling in all your fingers except the little finger. Has a younger sibling or an annoying kid at school ever poked your skin with a pin or a needle when you weren’t looking? If yes, then this is the exact sensation you get in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Going through the day with this syndrome can be annoying. You’ll notice pain as soon as you hold a phone, or a book, or start driving. Shaking your hands will help relieve this problem, but only temporarily.
If you notice weakness in the hands, then this could be a sign that you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. As it progresses, the syndrome will start to cause weakness in your thumb and first two fingers, making it difficult for you to grasp things. Additionally, you’d have problems buttoning your shirt or holding a utensil and may even start dropping things, like perhaps a plate of spaghetti in the lap of your annoying coworker. You wouldn’t want that to happen.
On a more serious note, get yourself checked for CT syndrome as soon as you notice this symptom develop. If you don’t, you may be facing work hours lost and a bank account that mirrors the Death Valley.
No need to feel embarrassed about this issue. You can talk about these problems with your spouse, a friend, or even your neighbor. The sensations of CT syndrome aren’t embarrassing, but they can pose a health risk. CT syndrome causes numbness in the hand, often leading to swelling in the area. In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish hot and cold, which poses a burn risk for those afflicted with the condition.
On occasion, the syndrome may cause an electric shock-like sensation in your fingers. It will travel from your wrist up your arm and may occur while you’re holding a newspaper, phone, or steering wheel. Also, these sensations may wake you in the middle of the night. ‘Shaking it off’ will temporarily relieve the problem, but if left untreated, in time, it may become a constant part of your life.
What Are the Causes of CT?
What causes CT? Not being careful about how you use your hands and fingers is the main consideration. A less generic explanation would be that certain activities performed during the day such as typing, writing, housework or DIY can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. In cases where the median nerve passing through the carpal tunnel is badly squeezed, inflammation may occur causing symptoms throughout the day. Though symptoms typically appear in the dominant hand first, CT syndrome can affect both hands at the same time. In order to prevent CT syndrome, it is important to modify work activities so as not to damage the carpal tunnel.
The truth is that there is no one, definitive cause of this syndrome. Instead, anytime there is inflammation or swelling in the narrow and rigid carpal tunnel, the median nerve will become compressed and cause pain.
Some people are more at risk of developing this syndrome than others. As a matter of fact, compared to men, women are three times more at risk of developing CT syndrome. Others at higher risk of developing the syndrome include those with:
● A sprained or fractured wrist
● Rheumatoid arthritis
What Limitations Does CT Cause?
So, what limitations can this condition cause? As it progresses, carpal tunnel syndrome can affect you even when you’re not performing any activity. You’ll start to lose grip strength, which will make it harder for you to grasp objects—especially the smaller items. You’d find typing on your smartphone, fastening buttons, or opening your favorite drink challenging to say the least.
As if that wasn’t bad news, CT syndrome may cause your thumb’s base to wither away if it is left untreated. What are the repercussions of this? You will no longer be able to distinguish hot and cold with your fingers and thumb. Also, CT symptoms will get worse after you perform an activity using the affected hand.
Moreover, if you keep the affected hand static for too long, the pain, weakness, and tingling in the hand will worsen. While keeping your hand active is important to relieve the symptoms of CT, don’t overuse your hand, at least not till you’ve tried the home treatments for your condition. What are the home treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome? Let’s find out.
What Are CT Home Treatments?
Want to get rid of CT symptoms?
Then try CT home treatments virtually every day for at least a month. You could go to a therapist for your condition, but this would cost you some money.Try some carpal tunnel home remedies before you start counting the money in your savings account to know if you can afford CT therapy or not. The carpal tunnel home remedies will work as effectively—if not more, than CT therapy. Following are CT treatments that you can perform at home and at a fraction of the cost you’d pay to a therapist.
Want to prevent your condition from flaring up? Then place an ice pack on the affected wrist to try and relieve the carpal tunnel symptoms. However, make sure you don’t apply ice directly onto the skin.
Medication can help relieve a host of health problems and this includes carpal tunnel syndrome. A common over-the-counter medicine used for this condition is Ibuprofen—a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. However, take this medication only if your symptoms are worsening because Ibuprofen can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, itching, and bloating.
Hand and Wrist Exercises
Want to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel? Then try hand and wrist exercises that target areas affected by this condition. These exercises strengthen muscle and promote good circulation to help alleviate the symptoms. Examples of these exercises are forearm extensor exercise, finger exercise, wrist stretch, tendon glides, grip strengthening, and wrist flexion exercise. You can get more information about these exercises at HealthFaire.com.
Rest Your Wrist and Hand
Ask any health expert, and they’ll tell you that the best way to give relief to your body is allowing it to rest. The more rest you give to your wrist and hand, the greater chance you have of relieving the CT symptoms. So, practice using your hands and wrist less often at home as this is the only place you have the luxury to do that.
Generally, it is recommended that you get treatment for CT syndrome as soon as you notice the symptoms. However, calling in a doctor or seeking medical help becomes necessary when this syndrome starts to affect your ability to accomplish daily activities. If the symptoms and signs of CT syndrome interfere with your normal activities and sleep patterns, get help right away. If left untreated, CT syndrome can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage.
The Future of CT Syndrome Treatments
Of late, considerable research has been done to find treatments that relieve the symptoms of repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. One such research was carried out by scientists funded through the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
They investigated the effects of acupuncture on pain, loss of median nerve function, and changes in the brain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, a randomized clinical trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment in conjunction with standard medical care is underway. Evaluations of these and other therapies will help to tailor individual treatment programs.
When Is Surgery the Only Option For CT?
To overcome the syndrome, many people consider carpal tunnel surgery, but it has been proven time and again that surgery is not a good option for relieving symptoms of carpal tunnel. Only when the carpal tunnel home treatments have not been effective and the symptoms have lasted for at least half a year, consider CT surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery cost will drain your savings accounts at the very least.
Can I Prevent CT?
Of course you can. Carpal tunnel prevention is very much possible if you:
● Take breaks from repetitive tasks
● Wear splints on your wrists
● Keep your hands warm
● Avoid activities that flex your wrists to the extreme
● Maintain correct posture to avoid straining your wrist and hands
● Use a comfortable computer mouse or typing board
● Reduce tour force and relax your grip
Is CT More Prevalent Now?
CT affected people in the past as well but it is more prevalent now. Today, carpal tunnel is more common than it was a decade or two ago, prompting researchers to find out if more can be done to prevent or alleviate this condition. In early stages, carpal tunnel can affect your ability to perform daily activities but if you allow this problem to progress, then there may come a time when your median nerve is permanently damaged and you are left with no option but surgery.
So, be sensible and treat your carpal tunnel syndrome as soon as you start noticing the symptoms. This is in your own best interest!