Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): the occupational hazard of anyone who has ever had to sit at a desk and type. Repetitive motions with less-than-ideal positioning—typing being chief among them—place pressure on the wrist's median nerve, which controls almost the entire arm.
This nerve's compression can lead to pain, tingling, loss of sensation, and possibly even the loss of full function in the affected arm. White-collar and blue-collar workers alike can attribute pain and numbness to carpal tunnel syndrome. How to treat it and avoid it, fortunately, are both within your grasp.
Several types of occupations and activities can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you have any activity that requires repetitive movements of the fingers and wrist and awkward hand movements can lead to this problem. The occupations connected with CTS tend to emphasize hard tugging, pushing, pulling, or twisting movements.
Treatment at Home
You can do many things at home to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Ice and NSAIDs will relieve inflammation, but they will not address the root cause of the syndrome. A wrist brace will stabilize your arm and eliminate the bad angles that can lead to nerve damage. While this helps, it will not be an overnight cure—it can take four to six weeks of stabilization for patients to begin feeling improvements.
Handheld ultrasound therapy shows promise as a safe, at-home approach to relieving pain associated with CTS — with ultrasound waves focused directly at the site of the nerve damage, the body can accelerate the healing process and decrease the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Consulting a physical therapist may be necessary for instances of moderate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your therapist will devise exercises you can perform to strengthen your arms and restore a full range of motion.
If all else fails, you may require surgery to resolve the issue. Doctors will open your wrist and sever a ligament, which will rebuild itself in such a way as to give the median nerve more room, preventing compression and further damage. Advances in endoscopic surgery have made it possible for surgeons to relieve this nerve pressure in a minimally invasive fashion. However, all surgery does come with recovery time.
Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The best treatment for CTS is to avoid it altogether. You can attempt several strategies to prevent this nerve damage. Foremost among these is to allow yourself rest breaks amid repetitive tasks such as typing or using tools. A healthy lifestyle with a good diet and adequate exercise can protect against high blood pressure, which increases the likelihood of nerve pressure.
These easy exercises can help protect your hands from CTS:
Whether you work with your hands in a way that requires precision or brute force, knowing how to treat and avoid carpal tunnel syndrome is essential. You will be able to keep strength and sensation in the face of repetitive stress.
CTS and Arthritis
With older people, you can have both arthritis and CTS. Arthritis can sometimes trigger Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or even make it worse. CTS is not a type of arthritis and does not cause arthritis. However, any type of arthritis in the wrist could lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to swelling in the wrist and tendons.
About the Author
Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.
Contributor since September 25th, 2020
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