Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Remedies
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful health condition of the hand particularly the wrist. Carpus (or Karpos) in greek means wrist. Carpal tunnel pain occurs because the median nerve which traverses from the forearm to the hand gets compressed at the wrist.
The wrist is surrounded by a supportive fibrous tissue connecting with the joint. This fibrous tissue and wrist bone has a tight space in between called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through this carpal tunnel, and is responsible for feeling sensation in the middle finger, thumb and index finger. When this nerve gets pressed, sensation is affected resulting in carpel tunnel syndrome or median neuropathy. This is more commonly seen among women than men.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
The exact cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown. Some health conditions which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome are obesity, arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, pregnancy and trauma. Repetitive tasks such as continuous typing for long hours, gripping strings on musical instruments can cause tendon inflammation and stress injury to the median nerve. Some rare diseases such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis and sarcoidosis cause deposits of abnormal substances in and around the carpal tunnel resulting in nerve irritation.
Signs & Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome signs begin as tingling and numb sensation which starts in the fingers and the wrist and slowly moves up the arms. Sharp, shooting pain similar to electric shock may occur. There is weakness in wrist and hand with difficulty experienced in getting a firm grip on any object. Usually symptoms are more pronounced during the night. One may experience difficulty in doing manual tasks which involve using hands.
Carpal Tunnel Diagnosis
The first signs of carpal tunnel are usually based on carpal tunnel symptoms noted above.
Physical examination of neck, shoulder, elbow, pulses and reflexes may be done. The wrist may be examined for tenderness, swelling, deformity and so on. When the front of the wrist is tapped, it can cause tingling of the hand. This is Tinel’s sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes when the examiner bends the wrist forward, symptoms may arise. This is called Phalen’s maneuver.
Carpal tunnel syndrome testing involves using a nerve conduction velocity test. In this diagnostic test, the speed of the electrical impulses which travel down a nerve are measured. Carpal tunnel diagnosis is positive if the impulse slows down as it crosses the carpal tunnel. EMG or electromyogram is a test for muscles of the extremities. EMG is sometimes done to rule out or detect conditions which have similar symptoms as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Blood tests for checking thyroid hormone levels, CBC (complete blood count), blood sugar and protein analysis may be done. Hand and wrist x-rays may help.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Remedies
1) Ice packs: Cold ice packs placed on wrists numb and reduce carpal tunnel pain.
2) Alternate hot and cold packs: Fill two tubs or sinks; one with ice water and the other with warm water. Alternate placing your wrists in one sink for 5 mins and the other sink for five minutes. This alternate warm-cold treatment several times a day soothes pain.
3) Carpal Tunnel Exercises: Physically fit people are at a lower risk for carpal tunnel. Exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome are aerobic and resistance training exercise techniques to keep tendons loose, improve blood flow and strengthen muscles of the hand, shoulders, back and arms. Carpal tunnel exercises can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome risk.
Some hand exercises are wrist circling (rotate both wrists first clockwise and then anticlockwise five times with palms outstretched), thumb stretching (gentle stretch, hold for 5-10 seconds for each thumb with other hand), hand clasping (intertwine fingers of both hands together to clasp hands together, squeeze gently, hold for 5-10 seconds, release. Repeat this five times), hold a rubber squeeze ball in each palm, press 5-10 times, then stretch out palm and fingers for 5 seconds. Wrist exercises can also be done using your hands to hold small weights to add strength to wrists. Stop exercises if carpal tunnel symptoms worsen.
4) Correct Position: Hold wrists straight to avoid further damage within the carpal tunnel. Use cushioned pads for wrist support to add cushioning to your wrists when typing.
5) Wrist Braces and padding prevents bothersome wrist movement and reduces carpal tunnel irritation. It is a great idea to wear the braces at night as a lot of people move their wrists while sleeping.