The carpal tunnel is located in our wrist and contains a nerve as well as several tendons used to flex our fingers and thumb. When the tunnel’s nerve gets compressed or pinched, this is known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
A constant ache, weakness in the hand or wrist, as well as numbness, tingling, swelling or stiffness are warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. While many health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or pregnancy can be at the root of the cause, often carpal tunnel syndrome is brought about by overuse.
Repetitive movements from one’s job and or lifestyle can result in the nerve in the wrist to be compressed. Tasks ranging from a desk job, to playing musical instruments or racquet sports can be at fault if they mean the wrist is being kept in the same position for too long throughout the day.
While carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition brought on slowly overtime, the pain can be disruptive and long lasting. However, if treated early and effectively, it is not a permanent condition.
At Home Treatment Options
- Wearing a wrist brace or splint can offer relief to those with mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. Wearing it while sleeping helps keep the wrist from bending and can reduce symptoms that interfere with sleep.
- Flexing the hand and wrist in warm water routinely is known to lessen the pain and improve blood flow.
- Elevation helps drain excess fluid that may be built up around the nerve, especially in cases of pregnancy.
- Ice and anti-inflammatory medicine will reduce inflammation near the nerve.
In addition to at home treatment options, often lifestyle changes are required to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from reoccurring.
Resting your hands and wrists from the activities that cause the symptoms to flare up is key. Whether it be taking breaks from typing, holding your phone, or participating in strenuous sports, not overusing your wrists and hands is best when it comes to being proactive.
If you suspect your job to be the main culprit, consider arranging your work space to better support your wrist and ensure it remains in a neutral position.
Additionally, try to be conscious of your grip when holding things. A relaxed grip is better for staving off carpal tunnel syndrome than one that is tight.
Consulting with Your Doctor
If at home treatment methods and preventative measures aren’t doing the trick, it’s time to consult with an orthopaedic doctor. Physical therapy can provide you with stretches and exercises that will help strengthen the hand and wrist muscles, as well as relieve pain.
Cortisone or steroid injections can offer temporary relief as well. In the most severe cases where extensive nerve damage is present, surgery may be required in order to remove pressure from the nerve. While surgery is never a first choice, carpal tunnel surgery often results in permanent relief.
To learn more about the treatment options best suited for you, contact Dr. Stacie Grossfeld. Dr. Grossfeld has over 25 years of experience in orthopedic medicine and is a double board-certified orthopedic surgeon. If your carpal tunnel symptoms persist, make an appointment with the Orthopaedic Specialists today by calling 502-212-2663.