What is Carpal Tunnel?
It is a disorder that affects millions of people on a daily basis. It is a compression of the carpal tunnel in the wrist that usually protects the median nerve. When it’s compressed due to swelling in the tendons and ligaments, it causes pressure and pain of the median nerve. Relieve the swelling, and it can appear to go away. It is still a temporary fix as carpal tunnel causes weakness in the hands and wrists, making many everyday tasks like typing, crocheting, brushing your hair difficult and painful to accomplish.
What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel?
Symptoms develop slowly and start with numbness in the hands, finger pain, tingling, pain that radiates from the palm out to the fingertips, and a growing inability to perform specific tasks. As the hand and wrist become weaker, repetitive tasks become more challenging to do without feeling some type of pain.
What Activities are often impacted by Carpal Tunnel?
Office jobs that require a lot of typing are often plagued by carpal tunnel. Think secretaries, programmers, writers that use a computer day in and day out. Keyboarding jobs like data input or word processing are just another set of jobs often plagued by this issue. It’s not only office workers that suffer. Construction workers that use hammers, drills, or anything that creates a jarring impact to the hands and wrist over and over again can also end up with carpal tunnel. Sewers, painters, and cleaners that do detailed repetitive work are also in danger of developing carpal tunnel. Even assembly line workers that install the same series of parts or tighten the same series of screws hour after hour, day after day, risk this type of injury.
While not life-threatening, it is certainly annoying. Living with continual pain and not being able to accomplish daily tasks causes stress and exhaustion that is mentally taxing as well.
There are two options. The first is surgery. This surgery is called Carpal Tunnel Release, and we’ll leave that for another day.
The more common treatment is self-care and an exercise plan to help with pain management. Some options are simple fixes like rearranging your workstation to align the arm, wrists, and hands in a neutral position. Maybe you raise the height of your desk chair or adjust the placement of your keyboard.
Others require a little more commitment, like wearing a wrist splint. These are often uncomfortable but keep the pain abated, and you may be able to accomplish many everyday tasks. Ice twice a day on the wrist, immersing the hand and wrist in warm water while flexing, any pain management treatment prescribed by a professional physician designed to relieve the pain and swelling.
Remember that if you are trying to avoid surgery which is not always possible, making a solid attempt at a proper self-care treatment is worth the time and effort. If nothing works, there is always surgery which works well and in 90% of cases offers the relief so desperately needed.