What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition causing numbness and tingling, along with other symptoms in the hand and the arm. This condition is a result of a pinched nerve in your wrist.
There are many factors that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- Anatomy of the wrist
- Patterns of hand use
- Underlying health problems
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist and is bound by ligaments and bones. It protects the main nerve to your hand and the nine tendons that bend your fingers. Compression of the nerves causes the tingling, numbness, and eventually weakness that characterize carpal tunnel syndrome.
For most individuals who develop carpal tunnel syndrome can relieve the numbness and tingling, and restore functioning of their hand and wrist with proper treatments.
What are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms?
Typically, carpal tunnel syndrome starts out with some intermittent tingling or numbness in your thumb, index, and middle fingers. You may also have some discomfort in your wrist and hand. Some of the common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are as follows:
This tingling/numbness will be in your hand and fingers, especially in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. However, it will not be present in your little finger. This sensation occurs mostly when holding objects such as a phone, newspaper, or steering wheel, and can commonly disrupt your sleep. Additionally, the sensation could extend from your wrist up your arm. Many people will shake their hand in order to relieve the symptoms, but as the disorder gets worse, the tingling/numbness will become more constant.
You could also experience some weakness in your hand and drop things more often. This is possibly due to the numbness in your hand or weakness of the pinching muscles of the thumb, which are controlled by the median nerve.
If you experience signs and symptoms that suggest carpal tunnel syndrome and they affect your normal activities and sleep patterns, you should see your physician. If the condition remains untreated, you could have some permanent nerve and muscle damage.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are some things you can do at home to treat the pain of your carpal tunnel syndrome. However, remember that if it keeps you awake at night or wakes you up in the middle of the night or if you cannot perform normal tasks, you should see your doctor- you may need surgery to correct the problem.
First of all, as much as possible, you should avoid performing repetitive tasks while you’re at home or at work. When you experience pain, apply a heating pad. Also, consider purchasing a splint or brace that you can use when you’re experiencing a flare-up of symptoms. The splint/brace will remind you to be careful with movement of your wrist/hand. Another soothing treatment to reduce inflammation with carpal tunnel syndrome is ice. Consider alternating heat with ice.
Second, do some hand/wrist/finger exercises. Start by making slow circles with your hand at the wrist joint to restore blood flow to the hand and relieve the pressure placed on your hands from repetitive tasks. You should do this exercise at least three times a day- or when you need to- to relieve the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some other exercises you can do are as follows:
- Raise your hands and rotate them at the joint of the wrist for 20 seconds in a clockwise motion- then reverse to a counterclockwise motion.
- Make a fist and open it a dozen times or more.
- Press your fingertips together, with your palms facing each other. Your fingertips will push your hands away from each other. Do this exercise 20 times, then rest for a minute and repeat.
Consider taking a vitamin supplement to reduce your symptoms of carpal tunnel. It has been said that high levels of vitamin B6 can help to reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel in most individuals. Vitamin B6 is found naturally in foods like avocados, turkey, brown rice, sweet potatoes, salmon, bananas, and even sunflower seeds. However, if you can’t seem to get enough Vitamin B6 naturally, you can take a supplement- 50 milligrams 2-3 times daily is recommended. Other supplements and herbs that have been proven to ease carpal tunnel symptoms include folic acid, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, arnica, and broelain.
As mentioned before, repetitive motions can cause carpal tunnel symptoms, due to pinching/stressing of the carpal tunnel nerve in the wrist. Visit a professional trained in acupuncture or acupressure. Both of these can relieve the pain associated with carpal tunnel by inserting needles (acupuncture) or applying pressure (acupressure) to the wrist, hands, thumbs, and arms. Additionally, you can deeply rub the area on the top of your wrist and forearm. This will cause pain in the areas where pressure has been building up. Rubbing/massaging these areas will allow the muscles, tendons, and nerves to stretch and relax, which will reduce your wrist pain. You should do this several times a day, and you will begin to feel some relief within about a day.
As with most other conditions, drinking lots of water can help. When you get dehydrated, many problems can occur. When an area of your body gets inflamed, your body will send water to the point of inflammation to encourage healing. Proper hydration will greatly reduce the pain that comes with dehydrated/inflamed muscles, including pain in the wrist associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. When you’re experiencing carpal tunnel pain, drink more water to ease the symptoms.
As mentioned above, acupuncture and acupressure are excellent treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. Chiropractic care can also be very effective. Consider visiting a chiropractor that does full body manipulations- that is, they don’t just focus on the spine. Ask him/her about doing some adjustments to your wrist and elbow to ease the pressure on the nerves in the carpal tunnel and reduce the pain. Finally, be aware of the posture of your arm and hand. If you bend your hand backward or forward at the wrist for long periods of time, this can cause pressure and stress on the nerves located in the carpal tunnel and cause pain. Learn ways that you can keep your wrist/hand as straight as possible.