Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compressed nerve condition of the wrists. It causes pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness of the hand musculature, often in the palm, fingers and thumb. The symptoms are caused by a pinching or compression of the Median Nerve, which is one of the three primary nerves in the arm and hand. As the nerve passes through a “tunnel” in the wrist out to the hand it gets compressed, which leads to the symptoms described above.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who complete repetitive tasks with the hands, such as computer work (both keyboard and mouse), text messaging, strong gripping tasks such as using a screwdriver, or hands that deal with intense vibrations (using a jackhammer, even driving). The most aggressive form of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is a surgery where they cut the tight tendons and muscles that compress the median nerve. But what if you don’t want surgery? Here are some simple home care tips to manage carpal tunnel syndrome.
Simple home care tips
Icing the wrists will reduce the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the median nerve (the pain you feel from CTS). Icing can also temporarily reduce nerve activity, also relieving pain, or numb pain by causing blood vessels to contract. You can do this up to twice per hour. I would suggest before and after completing troubling tasks, and if it’s a prolonged exposure, take breaks with ice as needed.
Buy a wrist splint! Usually, this can be found at any chemist, and you can wear the splint at night. The splint will support the wrist during sleep and stop you from having your wrists bent either forward or backward while you sleep.
Stretching the muscles of the hand and wrist will over time lengthen these structures. This reduces the tightness of the muscles and ligaments that compresses the median nerve. I suggest 3 simple stretches.
- Wrist Extensions – Put your hand out in front of you with your arm completely straight and the fingers facing upwards (as if you were holding it against a wall). Then with the other hand pull all 4 fingers back towards your body. You will feel this stretch on the underside of your wrist. You should hold this position for 20-30 seconds. You can do this as often as you like throughout the day, I suggest at least 5 times a day for good results.
- Wrist Flexions – Again start with your hand out in front of you, but this time drop your hand downward and have your fingers towards the floor. Then with the other hand pull the knuckles back as if you are trying to tuck them under your arm. This time you’ll feel the stretch on the upper side of the wrist. Similarly hold this position for 20-30 seconds and complete at least 5 times per day for best results.
- Thumb Extensions – Start with the hand out in front of you, fingers upward. With your other hand pull the thumb back towards you. As with the others, hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat at least 5 times daily for best results.
These at-home remedies will help manage the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, and may help reduce how frequently you suffer from the pain associated with it. Consult with a health professional about carpal tunnel and never try to diagnose yourself.
If you are seeing any unwelcome signs of Carpal tunnel syndrome, or general feelings of pain and discomfort, come in for a consultation and receive personalised advice and care.
To book an appointment with Dr. Scott, call 3482 2637 or click here to book an appointment online.