You’ve probably heard of the carpal tunnel syndrome before, and if you’re suffering from it, you know that it can start off as a mild inconvenience and turn into a truly disabling affliction if left untreated. In severe cases, a surgical operation may be required, but it’s actually quite easy to prevent an exacerbation of this problem, and even make it go away.
What is “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a medical condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it travels through the wrist at the carpal tunnel and causes pain, numbness and tingling in the part of the hand that receives sensation from the median nerve.
The main symptom of CTS is intermittent numbness of the thumb, index, and middle (long) fingers and the radial (thumb) side of the ring finger. The numbness often occurs at night, with hypothesized reasons related to sleep position – such as the wrists being held in a flexed position during sleep or sleeping on one’s side.
What are the Causes?
The medical cause of CTS is a compression of the median nerve, although physicians aren’t sure what the underlying causes are. However, several common factors were found to correlate with the development of CTS:
Prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance)
Trauma to the region
The prevention of CTS begins with comfort – reducing the levels of stress, using ergonomic equipment, and taking breaks from repetitive actions. All of these have been suggested by physicians as preventative measures for CTS. Other suggested prevention methods involve proper intake of B-vitamins, performing stretches and strength-training the joint.
A recent study from 2014 found that even after a single session of acupuncture, patients displayed a significant increase in their grip strength and reported reduced symptoms.
2. Botox Injections
Yes, the same Botox used to minimize wrinkles can also be used to stop CTS pain, according to an ongoing clinical trial in the University of Minnesota.
Applying ice to your wrists twice a day for 15-20 minutes each time can significantly reduce CTS symptoms. The low temperatures reduce the local inflammation, which causes the pain.
4. Taking Steroids Orally/Injections
Steroids, taken orally or via shots are helpful in numbing the pain. They are, however, not a treatment, as they do not heal the underlying cause of CTS. If you’re taking steroids for the pain, but your median nerve is still pinched, the pain will resume once you stop taking the steroids. Furthermore, long-term use of steroids can lead to various conditions, such as high blood pressure and glaucoma, and even ruptured tendons.
5. Wearing a Splint
A physician would recommend using a splint as the final step, before a surgery is necessary. A split will keep your wrist from moving too much, thus preventing an aggravation of the condition, eventually helping it heal. You may even have to sleep with the splint if your sleeping position is what causes the pinching of the median nerve.
Grab some lotion and massage your hands by using your fingers to rub along and in between the fingers, as well as the palm and the wrist, and even your forearm. Repeat this twice per day, for about 15 minutes for best results.
7. Using Ergonomic Equipment
If you work in front of a computer, invest in ergonomic mouse pad and an ergonomic keyboard for starters. Also invest in a chair with good posture support. Remember: the best angle for your elbows is 90 degrees, with your fingers lightly touching the keyboard.
8. Carpal Tunnel Stretches
Recommended by many physiotherapists, these simple stretches can help relieve and treat CTS.
9. Wet Cupping
This is an old Chinese medicinal technique, in which the therapist pricks the skin in acupuncture points, and then places glass cups on these spots to create suction. In 2009, German scientists conducted astudy and found that this technique is quite effective in relieving CTS symptoms within a week.