At the end of the workday, you may notice some symptoms like numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hands and wrists. This may ring especially true if you spend hours typing on your keyboard, holding your phone as you scroll through social media, or even playing an instrument.
It turns out these painful sensations, which are a type of repetitive strain injury, are commonly experienced in many lines of work, and they’re also key traits of carpal tunnel syndrome. If you frequently experience pain, tingling or numbness in your hand, this can be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the name for a collection of symptoms that happen when a major nerve in your hand is squeezed as it travels through your wrist. It is one of the most common nerve disorders, affecting four to 10 million Americans. The good news? It is usually very treatable.
What are symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include tingling and numbness in the middle of your hand. It is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. This nerve runs from the forearm through the wrist to the hand.
The area through which this nerve passes is called the carpal tunnel. Swelling may develop in this tunnel and the resulting pressure can lead to a pinched nerve.
A pinched nerve can cause the following symptoms:
- Tingling hand or fingers, mainly in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.
- Pain in the hand or fingers. This pain can be felt in your hand and fingers, but can also radiate to the forearm and elbow. The pain may also be felt in the shoulders.
- Numbness of the fingers.
- Less strength in the hand, so you may drop things.
- Symptoms may get worse during the night or when you use your hand a lot, such as while driving, cycling or reading.
What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
There are two general causes of carpal tunnel syndrome: The improper positioning of your wrists and the overuse of your hand muscles. It’s often known as a computer problem because it can happen if you are typing and using a mouse for hours at a time.
However, carpal tunnel can occur as the result of many different types of activities. Other common ones include scrolling on a tablet, playing an instrument, using equipment that vibrates (like a jackhammer, vacuum, or lawn equipment), or holding your phone.
Swelling in the carpal tunnel may be caused by an accident. Fluid retention, for example during pregnancy, or an underactive thyroid gland can also be the cause of the swelling.
The most important thing is to figure out which particular activities are the ones causing you pain and those may differ from person to person. Once you understand the physiology of what’s happening in your wrist and which activities trigger it, then you can fix it.
You should also be aware that although most carpal tunnel cases involve hand symptoms, not all hand or wrist issues are caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Hand pain, tingling, and numbness may also be caused by elbow, shoulder, neck, or back problems so it’s very important to understand the real underlying problem as the treatments will be different from carpal tunnel treatment.
Who are at high risk of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome?
The older you get, the more wear and tear happens on your wrists and hands, and the more likely you are to experience overuse injuries.
People with certain illnesses or health conditions, like diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, and hypothyroidism, are at an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
You may also be at a higher risk if you have sustained an injury to your wrist or hand, both recent or in the past.
What are the treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the condition. Mild symptoms can typically be managed with home remedies while surgery may be an option for those who have severe median nerve damage.
It’s important to discuss with your healthcare provider to weigh what options are best for you and your lifestyle.
How to Manage Pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Home treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome
This fall into 2 main categories: Changing your habits to reduce whatever is causing the pain and supporting your wrist while it heals
How to support your wrist to heal your carpal tunnel syndrome?
One of the most important things you can do to help your carpal tunnel syndrome is to start wearing a wrist splint or brace to keep your hand and wrist in a neutral position.
Changing your habits to manage pain from carpal tunnel syndrome
If you want to truly heal your carpal tunnel syndrome you need to change your daily habits that are contributing to your problem. So if you have a job that requires a lot of hand use then you need to find ways to use your hands less at home and when doing your hobbies.
If your pain comes from typing for hours on your laptop, it may be helpful to invest in a desk and chair that allow you to position your arms at a better angle or a computer mouse that gives your wrist a break.
For people who have pain when using their phone, they could buy a ring grip that allows them to hold the phone without bending their wrist, use the voice-to-text option instead of typing with their fingers, and use a stylus instead of a finger for scrolling.
Other ways to manage pain from carpal tunnel syndrome may involve finding a different way to hold your steering wheel, limiting your time playing video games, sleeping in a different position, holding your child in a different way, hiring a housekeeper (if you can afford it), learning a new way to hold a knife when chopping food, or using electric instead of manual tools for home projects.
One way to help manage pain from carpal tunnel syndrome is to take frequent “wrist rest” breaks. During these breaks, you can gently stretch out your hands and wrists which can provide some pain relief, particularly if you are wearing braces. Set a timer on your phone every hour to remind yourself to stop what you’re doing or change activities.
Ibuprofen to manage pain from carpal tunnel syndrome
Part of what causes the problem is inflammation so taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen (Advil), can help manage your symptoms and reduce the pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Note that this does not fix the underlying problems of poor wrist position or hand overuse so it’s not an effective treatment on its own.
Steroid injections to manage pain from carpal tunnel syndrome
A steroid/cortisone injection into the carpal tunnel can be an effective treatment for patients who have mild or moderate symptoms that are intermittent in nature and have been present for less than a year.
To get some ideas to manage from carpal tunnel syndrome, watch this video – 7 Easy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments – Ask Doctor Jo
The above are some of the ways for treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
To find out, what can be the best ways to manage pain from carpal tunnel syndrome, click HERE to Discover Self-Help Techniques to Reverse and Even Eliminate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
This post is from Carpal Tunnel Master program. It is created by Hilma Volk, a licensed massage therapist for 25 years. A few years into her massage career, she became terrified when her hands stopped feeling the clients she was working on. Desperate to save her career, she researched everything she could find on carpal tunnel syndrome.
Later on, she modified techniques learned through research and Continuing Education Courses which work to reverse carpal tunnel syndrome easily, safely and effectively without shots, pills, gizmos or surgery.
To find out more about this program, click on Carpal Tunnel Remedy