If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, arm pain doctors can help you find relief from the constant pain and discomfort associated with this relatively common condition.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful, uncomfortable conditioned characterized by tingling and numbness in the hands, wrists, and arms.
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when a nerve in the carpal tunnel becomes compressed.
The carpal tunnel is a small section of the wrist comprised of bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. The median nerve, which is in the carpal tunnel, provides sensation to most of the fingers. The tendons in the carpal tunnel allow us to bend our fingers.
Excess pressure on the median nerve can cause weakness, numbness, and pain in the wrist, forearm, hand, and arm. When the tendons become irritated and inflamed, they can exert pressure on the median nerve, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Causes and Risk Factors
Numerous conditions can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. In some cases, a specific cause cannot be identified.
Any wrist injury that causes swelling can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, including a fracture or sprain. Rheumatoid Arthritis, thyroid or pituitary gland disorders, joint problems, obesity, and diabetes increase one’s risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women than in men. Women tend to have smaller wrists and carpal tunnels, and fluid retention during menopause or pregnancy increases the risk.
Assembly line workers are particularly susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeated pressure on the hand and wrist can cause nerve damage or make existing nerve damage worse. Office workers and computer users might also be prone to wrist issues, especially if they have poor posture and work for extended periods without rest.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes an unpleasant sensation of tingling, numbness, or pain that travels from the hand up through the wrist and arm. Some patients compare the feeling to an electric shock.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause muscle weakness in the hand. You might have difficulty holding objects without dropping them.
The problem tends to worsen over time. Left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve or muscle damage.
It’s important to seek prompt, professional treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome to avoid long-term complications from nerve and muscle damage. Arm pain doctors can help you find relief.
Here are 15 tips for managing your carpal tunnel syndrome:
1. Treat the Underlying Cause
Treating the underlying cause is the first and most important step for managing carpal tunnel syndrome. Your chiropractor will examine you to determine the nature of your condition and the best possible treatment plan.
2. Practice Good Posture
Having poor posture compresses the nerves in the neck, which can also affect the fingers, wrists, and hands. A chiropractor can help you achieve improved posture.
3. Take Frequent Breaks
It’s essential to take frequent breaks when working with your hands. Periodically stretch and rest your arms, wrists, and hands.
4. Use Proper Form
Try to keep your wrist as relaxed as possible. Avoid bending it too far up or down.
5. Use an Ergonomic Mouse and Keyboard
Your mouse and keyboard should be at or below the height of your elbows. An ergonomic mouse and keyboard might be more comfortable than a traditional setup.
6. Keep Hands Warm
Wear gloves to keep your hands warm in cold weather or environments. Cold temperatures tend to increase pain and stiffness.
7. Medication for Short-Term Relief
Over-the-counter pain medication can provide short-term relief of pain and inflammation. However, medication doesn’t address the underlying cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. It may provide short-term symptom relief, but it won’t improve your condition.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Advil, Aspirin, Motrin, and Aleve are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, ulcers, and stomach bleeding. Therefore, they should be used only in moderation and on a short-term basis.
8. Steroid Injections
Prescription steroid injections or oral corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and therefore decrease pressure on the median nerve. However, corticosteroids can have dangerous side effects and should not be used in patients with certain medical conditions.
Yoga poses that extend the forearms can help strengthen and stretch the wrists.
10. Exercise and Physical Therapy
A chiropractor can recommend specific exercises and stretches to relieve carpal tunnel pain.
11. Ice and Heat Therapy
Some chiropractors use ice and heat therapy to alleviate painful inflammation.
Chiropractors use massage to promote healing by improving blood circulation. Massage also triggers the body’s release of endorphins, which are naturally occurring painkillers.
13. Spinal Manipulation
Chiropractic spinal manipulation restores a healthy alignment of the spine. Proper spinal alignment improves nervous system health. Carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with nerve pain, so arm pain doctors use chiropractic techniques to provide relief.
A wrist splint or support bandage can help reduce strain on the wrist.
15. Surgery if Necessary
If other treatment methods have failed, surgery may be necessary. A surgeon makes incisions in the carpal tunnel ligament to alleviate pressure on the median nerve. Unfortunately, recovery may take several months, and most patients do not have complete relief from weakness or numbness.