|Written by Aupoet|
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a debilitating condition that can lead many to believe that surgery for carpal tunnel is the only option. There are alternative treatments that have been shown to work. Therapy for carpal tunnel, if started early enough and practiced correctly, can reduce or even stop the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel in many cases.
1. Understanding the causes of Carpal tunnel Syndrome is necessary in order to work out a treatment plan to get it under control and cut down on wrist pain and nerve pain. The wrist joint in not just a simple bone to bone joint. There are several bones, various ligaments, numerous tendons, and lubricating membranes that all make up the wrist joint, along with the nerves and blood vessels that pass through the wrist. It is a pretty crowded place and it is constantly being overworked and under-appreciated leading to carpal tunnel pain. The main nerve involved with carpel tunnel syndrome is the median nerve that passes between the bones of the wrist (the carpals) and the ligaments that form a band over the bones. The passage is known as the carpal tunnel and also contains some 9 tendons and the synovium membrane which is for lubrication. Any inflammation of any of these parts can cause pressure on the median nerve and lead to carpal tunnel symptoms.
2. Recognize the symptoms of carpal tunnel, which include: numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the first three fingers, loss of strength in the thumb, "falling asleep" of the hand and arm, and general pain when doing certain tasks such as typing and other repetative tasks. Carpal tunnel hand pain is usually worse late in the day and at night when the pain can interrupt sleep. Some tasks that aggravate the wrist include: typing, hammering, use of vibrating tools, gripping of small tools -such as pencils, needles, and screwdrivers, and any repetitive motions. At night the bouts may be caused by the wrist lying in a bent position or being compressed under the body. Carpal tunnel wrist problems can also be caused by being overweight or having a tendency to retain water, which can intensify the problem and lead to more nerve damage. Sometimes carpal tunnel syndrome can be confused with arthritis, to find out how the two compare read my article (Is it arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome?).
3. Take preventative measures to stop the symptoms of carpel tunnel. Don't over work the affected wrist and take frequent breaks when doing an activity that strains the joint. Get up and walk around for 5 minutes or so, every half hour. Correct the position the wrists are held in while working so they are not bent but held straight. Adjusting a chair's arm rest height so the wrists are level with the keyboard when typing and don't have to bend down to it, will do a world of good. There are wrist support platforms to put in front of keyboards, and wraps and wrists splints to wear that will help. Wearing a wrist brace at night that will keep the wrist from bending, will often stop carpal tunnel pain. The wearing of a wrist brace during the day may be necessary but¬†can lead to a loss of muscle tone due to lack of joint use. It is important to get the proper type of wrist brace and to wear it correctly. A¬†carpal tunnel wrist brace should have a support in it, usually metal, to keep the wrist at the proper angle. A simple ace bandage type wrist wrap will not give the support needed. Do not wear the brace so tight that¬†blood circulation is cut¬†off or so loose that the wrist in allowed to flop about freely.¬†Get writing instruments and hand tools that have larger handles to keep from having to bend the thumb and fingers in so far when gripping. If it is necessary to take on a job that will strain the wrist, take anti-inflammatory drugs before the job, to prevent the cycle of swelling and inflammation before it starts. Cut out or cut back on activities that require moving the wrist side to side or up and down repetitively. Don't do¬†activities that require blows to the palm side of the wrist such as catching balls, prolonged clapping, or slapping of objects. Any sudden jarring motions¬†including the rapid shaking and swinging of the affected hand to "wake it up" can increase¬†inflammation and lead to tendon damage.¬†Don't wear tight fitting watches, jewelry, or sleeves that bind the wrist. It may be necessary to give up things like crocheting, tether ball games, and embroidery.
4. Consider treatment plans if prevention doesn't work. Carpal tunnel treatment plans include the use of anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs has been shown to be a very successful treatment for carpal tunnel pain. Each of these drugs also have side effects, use warnings, and limitations, so consult a doctor before using them for any prolonged period.¬†Cold compresses will help to relieve swelling and pain quickly but are a short lived solution. Keeping an ice filled bag or cold pack in a plastic tray near the work area for placing the affected hand on during breaks, will help to prevent inflammation. Acupuncture and acupressure have been shown to help relieve carpal tunnel pain. Read my article that covers using acupressure, How to relieve carpal tunnel pain using acupressure. Vitamin B6 and Glucosamine/chondroitin suppliments have been shown to help with joint pain relief.¬†There are also wrist exercises and motions that will relieve stress on the joint¬†
5. Doctors can give cortisone shots in the affected area, that give pain relief instantly and for some people the pain relief can last several months. Surgery for carpal tunnel has been found to greatly ease the symptoms and it is a common procedure now. Carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure involving the cutting of the ligaments that enclose the median nerve to relieve pressure on it. Surgery for carpal tunnel is often preformed on an outpatient basis using endoscopy with very small cuts. Patients may require several months of rehabilitation and in some cases, repeated surgeries are necessary. Prevention is still the best option because each time there is pain, that means the nerve is being compressed and damaged. Damage to the median nerve can become permanent and can lead to a loss of sensation and strength that is permanent. Just remember there are things that can be done to live with carpal tunnel syndrome but it is important to not just ignore it.¬†