Both at work and at home you spend significant time at a desk or on a computer, handling documents, writing, typing for extended periods of time, or doing other repetitive tasks, etc. Perhaps you are at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you want to know more about Carpal Tunnel and learn what you can do to reduce your risk, below is some advice.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel is a narrow nerve passage located in the wrist. The “median nerve” passing through this tunnel is responsible for feeling in and movements of part of hand and fingers.
If the carpal tunnel becomes irritated and swells, such swelling compresses the median nerve and causes pain. If left untreated, it can result in permanent nerve damage.
Who’s at a higher risk?
Statistics show that there are age, gender, health condition, and occupation factors that affect the likelihood of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Children very rarely develop the syndrome
- Older adults are more likely to develop it than young adults
- Women are approximately three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men
Health conditions or life circumstances with increased risk
- During and shortly after pregnancy
- During menopause
- Chronic illness such as diabetes
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney failures
Occupations at higher risk
- Executive secretaries, administrative assistants and office managers
- Customer service representatives
- Office clerks
- Accountants, book keepers, auditors and computer software engineers
- Laborers, material movers and handlers
- Janitors, maids, housekeepers, cleaners
- Auto technicians, mechanics and truck drivers
- Sewing machine operators
- Welders, cutters
Recognizing the symptoms
Some signs that you might have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are:
- An urge to “shake out” your hand due to discomfort
- Pain or numbness in the fingers, thumbs, hands or wrists
- Muscle weakness in hands
- Tingling, burning, or pins and needles sensation in thumb, or second, third, or fourth digit fingers.
Symptoms are often present at night, which might be another indication of diagnosis.
Keep in mind that carpal tunnel syndrome is frequently misdiagnosed. Issues that can sometimes be confused for CTS due to similar symptoms:
- Spinal disk subluxations
- Spinal disc degeneration
Tips to reduce your risk
If you are at a higher risk for CTS due to your occupation or other factors, you can benefit from regularly spending a few minutes per day on the below exercises.
- Shake hands – stand up with your hands pointing down and relaxed, with elbows slightly bent. Shake your hands to loosen up your wrists. Shake the hands for a minute or two. Do not shake “violently.” The aim is to reduce muscle tension and nerve swelling that build up throughout the day, and to increase blood and lymphatic circulation.
- Wrist stretch in – extend your right arm in front of you (straight forward or slightly down), with you palm facing down. Use your other hand to hold the hand of outstretched right arm, bend the hand at wrist and pull it lightly toward you to stretch the outer part of your wrist (back side). You should only feel a mild stretch. Do this two or three times for both right and left hand, stretching for 15-20 seconds at a time.
- Wrist stretch out – extend your right arm in front of you (straight forward or slightly down), with you palm facing up. Use your other hand to hold the hand of outstretched right arm, bend the hand at wrist and pull it lightly toward you by the palm to stretch the inner part of your wrist. You should only feel a mild stretch. Do this two or three times for both right and left hand, stretching for 15-20 seconds at a time.
- Optimize your workspace – try implementing wrist-friendly products to alleviate the repetition and strain that your wrist endures.
What to do if you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome
If you think you might have developed carpal tunnel syndrome, you should seek advice of a doctor. And, the sooner the better. CTS treatment is normally more effective if started earlier.
The most important first step is to get your issue diagnosed correctly. Upon definite diagnosis, your doctor will be able to recommend therapy, chiropractic treatment, or surgical procedure, based on the conditions that you are in.
CTS is often treated by steroid injection to reduce inflammation of carpal tunnel area, or surgery. You can also look into physical therapy or chiropractic treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Finally, there are special wrist braces that prevent wrist bending, keeping carpal tunnel opened to the maximum possible and minimizing pressure on the nerve, allowing inflammation to subside – they are an available solution that can be used in some CTS cases.
If you pursue physical therapy or chiropractic treatment, make sure that you choose a reputable therapist or chiropractor, and commit to the treatment – it may require some time and effort but may help you avoid surgical procedures.
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