Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of medical condition that affects the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a structure of bones within the wrist. When the overlying connective tissues, nerves and tendons on the carpal tunnel are inflamed, it leads to persistent pain, numbness and tingling of the fingers and wrist. For some, the pain is tolerable but for others, it’s painful enough to disrupt sleep or affect day to day activities.
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome have no known cause. But this condition is common among those who perform repetitive motions with their hands while working.
Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The most common signs of carpal tunnel syndrome are pain around the wrist, tingling sensation, numbness and pain in the thumb, index or middle finger. The weakness of the hands, a painful forearm and pain on the shoulders are also signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Resting the Hands and Wrists
If you work long hours using your hands, you’re more likely to develop this condition. As soon as you feel pain, figure out what’s causing the pain. Then, rest the hands and wrists by flexing and bending them. This should alleviate the pain temporarily. Start taking breaks when the pain starts to set in or swap jobs with a co-worker.
If the pain is intense enough to disrupt work, let your employer know about the problem. Your employer may either re-assign you to a different work or give you time off to recover from the pain. Depending on the intensity of the pain, we recommend resting the hands and wrists for at least a couple of weeks.
A cold compress will also numb wrist and hand pain temporarily. Get an ice pack and place it on the affected area. Leave the cold compress for at least 10 minutes. Change it once or twice an hour if pain persists.
Hot compress will loosen tight muscles and alleviate wrist pain too. Get a warm compress and apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for at least 15 minutes. If pain persists, change the warm compress twice or thrice in an hour.
Take Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs will cut down the inflammation caused by stressed nerves and tendons. These medications will also minimize swelling and pain. For best results, talk to your doctor first to get a prescription.
Wear a Splint
A splint will relieve stress on the wrists and hands. It puts the hand in a neutral position, alleviating pressure on the median nerve. You can use a splint every night to minimize pain. If your work allows it, you can also wear a splint during the daytime.
Meds for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are cases wherein carpal tunnel syndrome is not the main condition but a symptom for an underlying condition. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, take disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs. These medications will relieve joint pain and minimize the inflammation that’s causing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Yoga exercise improves flexibility, boosts wrist strength and alleviates carpal tunnel syndrome. You can do yoga at home. Go for exercises designed to strengthen the upper body, the joints and the wrists.