We've compiled a carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet to help you better understand the affliction and how to prevent and treat it.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones, tendons, and ligaments that runs down the palm side of your hand to your wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, is caused when the median nerve running through the carpal tunnel is compressed, causing tingling, wrist pain, hand pain, numbness, difficulty flexing, and weakness in the hand, wrist, and arm.
With these simple, everyday tips, you’ll be protecting your hands and wrists and lowering your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, becoming a candidate for transverse carpal ligament surgery, steroid injections, x-rays, or even a wrist splint.
Once or twice a day, stopping what you are doing to stretch your wrists gently can go a long way in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome. A simple flexion and extension exercise you can try begins with making a fist and then opening your hand till your fingers are stretched as far as they can go, and then repeating ten times. Exercises like this are non-surgical treatment options that can help prevent carpal tunnel before it gets worse and also prevent any nerve and muscle atrophy.
While in an office setting, be sure you have the right setup to support your wrists as you work. Your keyboard should be within easy reach, and your chair should be positioned so that your wrists are straight when you type or use your mouse. You can also buy products to help as you work, such as a wrist cushion. If you do get an affected hand or two, stretch them, and then try and reset your workspace to improve your wrist position.
While you’re busy at your job or performing a hands-on task, always be sure to take frequent breaks, giving your hands and wrists a chance to relax. Various movements and repetitive motions with your hands and wrists can trigger carpal tunnel syndrome, and breaks help reduce the risk of strain. Do a physical examination of your hands and wrists- do you feel alright? Is anything tight or sore? Consider stretching, and if the pain continues, simple over-the-counter pain medication or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should help, such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen.
You may not realize it, but when your back is hunched over, you may also hurt your wrists. Maintaining proper posture helps reduce strain and pressure on your hands, wrists, and arms.
The cold can exacerbate pain and stiffness, so keeping your hands warm and cozy can help prevent your carpal tunnel syndrome risks. Make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature or wear fingerless gloves to help you avoid any chills.
Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, nerve damage, or heart disease can increase the risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Those with a medical history of hand and wrist injuries, or who are repeated smokers are also more likely to develop this condition. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle free of smoking and with plenty of exercises and a balanced diet can keep your hands and wrists from getting weak and stiff.
If you notice tingling, numbness, or weakness in your hands, wrists, or arms, don’t dismiss it. Visit your healthcare provider. Or even better, an orthopedic specialist who is certified by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons for proper care and treatment to prevent the discomfort from worsening. Once with a specialist, they may conduct the Tinel test, where the doctor taps on or presses on the median nerve in the person’s wrist to determine the severity of the condition and if carpal tunnel release is necessary. They may also perform other tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nerve conduction studies, or electromyography. While carpal tunnel surgery sounds extreme, it sometimes is the only way to treat the condition in severe cases.
At Long Island Brain & Spine, we provide state-of-the-art carpal tunnel syndrome treatment and, in severe cases, a surgical procedure or outpatient physical therapy to help you resume your normal activities without pain. Providing our patients with viable treatment methods utilizing innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology is our key to success.
For more information on how we can help you, please visit our website or give us a call at 631-422-5371.