Carpal tunnel syndrome is described as pain, swelling, and numbness on the hand, forearm, and wrist caused by compression of the median nerve. This condition is prevalent among people with desk jobs due to improper desk height and non-ergonomic equipment. It can also happen because of repeated exposure to vibrations from power tools or motions that overextend the wrist and fingers, like playing the piano.
Because carpal tunnel syndrome is so widespread, there are many treatment options available to ease the discomfort. If you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, try some of these treatment options.
A therapy ball can help ease the stiffness and pain induced by carpal tunnel syndrome. It also helps strengthen muscles and improve flexibility along the forearms, wrists, and fingers, preventing future injuries. Other exercises like gentle stretching, yoga, and weights can also help. The good thing about these exercises is that you don’t need expensive equipment or go to a gym. If you’re feeling the symptoms creep up on you, you can do your stretches right on your work desk.
It’s not just due to work that you may experience pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Pregnant women may also suffer from this due to their condition. The hormone levels of pregnant women are higher, and it could cause fluid retention, which in turn may lead to swelling. This swelling can affect the carpal tunnel, which is why they may feel the syndrome’s symptoms. Menopause may also cause fluid retention. Anything that may cause the latter could also cause carpal tunnel syndrome because of the swelling. Elevating the wrists or hands often is one way to alleviate the pain.
2. Home remedies
Sometimes, something as simple as an ice bath can help alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome. The cold will reduce the swelling and ease the pressure on the median nerve. However, for some people, hot water or heat packs work better. Keeping the hands warm is an effective way to alleviate stiffness and pain. Have a hand warmer ready in your workstation so that you can use it anytime. Another option is to wear a pair of fingerless gloves. They provide warmth while still letting you type or do something conveniently with your hands. Analgesic balms and pain-relief patches with menthol and methyl salicylate and over-the-counter medication like aspirin or ibuprofen can also ease the pain.
Resting your hands and wrists is a good way to recuperate from carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a condition caused by repetitive motion, so you can prevent it from happening in the future by taking breaks. Switch your routine to ensure you’re not pushing yourself. This includes taking 10-minute breaks every hour to stretch and do something else, changing your workstation to accommodate your height and posture, using ergonomic tools, etc. You can also use wrist braces to prevent any strained motion while you recover.
Steroids are used for treating various inflammations, such as rheumatoid arthritis, myositis, and vasculitis. Since carpal tunnel syndrome also causes inflammation and swelling, you can use oral steroids, although you need a prescription to buy them. Low doses are used for relieving stiffness and pain. If it’s severe, a higher dose may be prescribed by your doctor. Like any other medication, it also has side effects, and it may vary from one person to another. Not everyone may experience these side effects; some do not experience them at all. Some of the side effects of taking oral steroids are the following:
- Mood swings
- Weakness of muscles
- Lower infection resistance
- Weight gain
Your doctor may also administer steroid injections to help alleviate pain caused by the condition. It will be injected directly into the problem area, which is the carpal tunnel. The relief will not be immediate. It may take days before you can feel its effect. The good thing about this is that its effect can last longer than other regular treatments, so, you could be pain-free for several weeks.
Like oral steroids, the injection also has its side effects. One of the most common is the burning sensation or flare around the injected area. However, it is easy to treat by getting enough rest and applying a pack of ice. Infections and allergic reactions are also possible side effects. If you have diabetes, it may cause your blood sugar level to rise, so be sure to let your physician know about your condition before getting the shots. Also, if you experience severe fever or pain after taking the injection, seek immediate medical help. Note that doctors do not always recommend steroid injections, although they can be options if the other common treatments do not work.
It may seem excessive, but surgery is the best option for some severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. The good news is that the procedure is often quick and painless. In addition, you won’t need to be unconscious as the anesthesia is localized in your wrist. The surgeon will make small incisions on the wrist and palm to reach and cut the carpal ligament, easing the pressure on the median nerve. You will need to wear a cast for some time, but the recovery after the surgery usually lasts anywhere from weeks to months.
As is the case with any ailment, consulting with your doctor is the best way to guarantee a treatment method that suits your specific needs. If over-the-counter drugs and ice packs aren’t working, a doctor can prescribe you more potent medication. They may also recommend an x-ray to ensure it is carpal tunnel syndrome and not another condition like diabetes or muscle strain. If the pain lingers or becomes too intense, book an appointment with a medical professional as soon as possible.
Also, prevention is always better than cure. So practice good habits that can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of them are keeping the wrists straight when working with tools, monitoring health conditions associated with the syndrome, and holding your wrists straight when sleeping. These are easy but effective ways of preventing this condition.