How to prevent and manage carpal tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a neurological disease that is accompanied by severe pain in the wrist area. It is not uncommon for people who perform routine manual work associated with constant wrist movements to suffer from this condition. As there are more and more jobs that use hands and wrists (sitting at a computer all day), carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming more widespread. The unnatural positioning of the hands when using a computer mouse and typing on the keyboard significantly increases the risk of this syndrome. In addition to those with desk jobs, people who do assembly of different parts and units, artists, and pianists often suffer from carpal tunnel ailment.
Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome
The bones of the arm, the ulna and radius wrist zone has a canal, called the carpal canal, through which the median nerve passes. This nerve helps to make most of the motor muscles of the hand possible. When there is too much pressure on the median nerve, caused by intensive hand activity or awkward hand bending, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs. In major cases, the infringement of the nerve is a result of a long, monotonous, routine work of the hand. If working conditions are uncomfortable and require a curved wrist position, it is likely that all wrist muscles are straining and this causes swelling.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with other issues that have no direct relationship to routine manual work. For example, diabetes, a wrist injury, inflammation that affects conjunctive tissues, hypothyroidism and many similar hormonal disorders.
Carpal tunnel symptoms
Exact carpal tunnel symptoms, their character, and how long they appear are quite individual but most often the problem begins with a slight tingling in the wrist zone. You may have an unpleasant feeling growing into acute pain, which is a harbinger of carpal tunnel syndrome. After rest, especially in the mornings, you may feel a slight numbness that spreads from your wrist along the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes weakness of the main motor hand muscles so that it is hard for a person to lift heavy items.
With the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome and the absence of carpal tunnel treatment, new symptoms may appear, including decreased sensitivity of the palm, thumb, and index fingers. This leads to pain as well as to various small motor disorders. A person who has carpal tunnel syndrome experiences discomfort when performing manual work that requires certain dexterity, for example, writing, peeling vegetables or buttoning buttons. Later, pain may spread along the entire arm up to the shoulder.
Carpal tunnel treatment
The treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the extent of the condition. There are normally three methods of carpal tunnel syndrome treatment:
In the early stage, a tight band or arm brace can help. You can also use a specific carpal tunnel split to prevent your wrist from bending. It is also recommended to change your work position in a way that will help place your wrist in a better position. You can do this by using an ergonomic computer mouse or keyboard. In addition, you can contact a physiotherapist for a consultation. Early treatment brings carpal tunnel relief without the need for carpal tunnel surgery.
If the compression of the nerve in the wrist is accompanied by frequent pain and a wide area of numbness, then anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed you by your health care professional. In the meantime, aspirin and ibuprofen are standard painkillers. There are certain ointments that are used to reduce inflammatory reactions of carpal tunnel. But keep in mind, these methods won’t provide a long-lasting effect if you continue to put your wrist in the same positions during the therapy.
In the most difficult cases, carpal tunnel surgery is prescribed. This type of surgery is performed under local anesthesia. The surgeon cuts the skin, opens the main fascia and widens the carpal tunnel canal. It should be noted that carpal tunnel surgery is used only after unsuccessful results with other medically induced carpal tunnel treatment.
5 Simple exercises to do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome
If you can’t change your work conditions and you still have to do a lot of computer work throughout the day, you can do the following easy exercises to relax your wrists. You don’t have to do all of them together. Exercise every time you feel numbness or discomfort in the wrist or change wrist position often to spread the pressure throughout your hand:
- Fist – make a fist and then rapidly open your hand as widely as you can. Repeat it 10 times.
- Single-finger rotation – rotate each finger clockwise 10 times. Then rotate them counterclockwise.
- “Pray exercise” – place both palms face-to-face together in front of your chest. Then slowly lower them to your waist, then come them back to chest level. Repeat 10 times.
- Finger lock – put your fingers together in a lock and straight them. Bend your fingers down but at the same time bend your wrists up. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
- Wrist rotation – fold fingers into a fist and rotate it 10 times clockwise and 10 times opposite rotation direction.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition of our modern age that may go from a slight discomfort and grow into a serious condition. However, understanding the causes and improving the positioning of your hands may help you prevent or manage this condition. Take care of your wrists, place them in comfortable and natural positions, do easy exercises during the day and never experience carpal tunnel pain.