Carpal tunnel is a common pain syndrome caused by compression of the median nerve located in the wrist. The median nerve branches off from the wrist into the fingers. Compression of the nerve can cause numbness and tingling that may be very uncomfortable.
Prevalence of carpal tunnel has become greater as more people move into sedentary jobs. The condition can develop at any time of life, but it is far more common among working-age professionals.
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Carpal Tunnel
Because the signs of carpal tunnel can be intermittent at first, those suffering don’t always know there is a problem. Over the course of months or even years, symptoms tend to become more frequent and persist for longer periods – potentially signaling permanent nerve damage.
Numbness and a “pins and needles” sensation throughout the hand and fingers are the most common issues associated with carpal tunnel. Discomfort may spread throughout the forearm, especially as the condition grows more serious.
Carpal tunnel may be caused, and can significantly worsen, by postural issues developed while using a computer for long periods of time. This being the case, the symptoms for many sufferers are worse when they are using a desktop or laptop computer during the workday.
Sufferers who begin to notice clumsiness and weakness in the hand and wrist long after computer work could be developing lasting structural problems with the median nerve. However, it may be possible to reverse the trend and alleviate symptoms.
Ways to Avoid a Carpal Tunnel Diagnosis
Anyone who uses a computer for a long stretch of time throughout the day is at some risk of developing carpal tunnel. Many of the underlying risk factors are hard to diagnose or predict: for example, small variances in wrist anatomy may play a role.
The most important step for resisting carpal tunnel onset is to take frequent breaks. Each hour, consider scheduling a break of five minutes. You can enhance the positive effects of each break by getting up, stretching and walking around.
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome arise from repetitive stress caused by habitual movements of the hand and wrist. Many different forms of office equipment, including wrist rests, computer mice, and keyboards have been re-designed to offset risk. Consider using these ergonomic products.
Managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Although carpal tunnel is inconvenient and uncomfortable, it is a very manageable condition. Anti-inflammatory medication can help but is necessary only in advanced cases. Patients experiencing swelling of the wrists can typically control it by icing the affected area.
Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can help curb short-term symptoms. However, they are not known to eliminate them. Your doctor may suggest corticosteroid injections, which can relieve median nerve pressure by decreasing swelling and inflammation.
Those with chronic symptoms often benefit from using a special wrist splint that holds the wrist in place during sleep. Nighttime splinting is especially helpful for women who are pregnant and those who encounter sleep disturbances related to their carpal tunnel symptoms.
Surgical options are available for those who suffer severe, prolonged carpal tunnel that does not respond well to other treatments. The most common surgical intervention involves cutting the ligament that presses against the median nerve, greatly reducing structural pressure on the nerve.
If you suffer from, or suspect you have, carpal tunnel syndrome, expert treatment may help you. To learn more, contact Boulevard Medical Healthcare today to book an appointment.