How Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Be Prevented
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be difficult to prevent. The condition can be caused by so many different activities in a persons daily life that prevention can be challenging. Workstation changesproper seating, hand and wrist placementcan help decrease some factors that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Other preventative methods include:
- Sleeping with your wrists held straight.
- Keeping your wrists straight when using tools.
- Avoiding flexing and extending your wrists repeatedly.
- Taking frequent rest breaks from repetitive activities.
- Performing conditioning and stretching exercises before and after activities.
- Monitoring and properly treating medical conditions linked to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Only Happen To Office Workers Or Factory Workers
No. Many people with carpal tunnel syndrome have never done office work or worked on an assembly line. It affects people who use their wrists and hands repeatedly at work and at play. Anyone can get carpel tunnel syndrome, but it is unusual before age 20. The chance of getting carpal tunnel syndrome increases with age.
What Happens During Surgery
Surgery can be performed either as an open or endoscopic technique. Both are performed as outpatient surgery, require small incisions, and take only 10 minutes. Both procedures involve cutting the carpal ligament to relieve pressure on the median nerve. Recovery varies, depending on the incision size and the patients overall health.
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Take Care With Computer Work
Whether or not computer work increases the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome is controversial. Some studies suggest that prolonged computer work can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, other studies do not show this risk. I suspect that it is not the computer itself that is the culprit, but the way we use it. If someone has poor posture at their desk and types with the wrists bent for a prolonged period of time, there can be increased pressure on the nerves. I would suggest taking rest breaks, stretching, and maintaining good posture of the neck, back, shoulders and wrists to avoid CTS symptoms.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
Carpal tunnel release is a surgery used to treat and potentially heal the painful condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors used to think that carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by an overuse injury or a repetitive motion performed by the wrist or hand, often at work. They now know that it’s most likely a congenital predisposition some people simply have smaller carpal tunnels than others. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also be caused by injury, such as a sprain or fracture, or repetitive use of a vibrating tool. It’s also been linked to pregnancy, diabetes, thyroid disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The median nerve and tendons that allow your fingers to move pass through a narrow passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is formed by the wrist bones on the bottom and the transverse carpal ligament across the top of the wrist. When this part of the body is injured or tight, swelling of the tissues within the tunnel can press on the median nerve. This causes numbness and tingling of the hand, pain, and loss of function if not treated. Symptoms usually start slowly, and may get worse over time. They tend to be worse on the thumb side of the hand.
During a carpal tunnel release, a surgeon cuts through the ligament that is pressing down on the carpal tunnel. This makes more room for the median nerve and tendons passing through the tunnel, and usually improves pain and function.
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Part 2 Of 2: Recovering In The Long Term
Myth: Any Hand Pain Or Tingling Is A Sign Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Especially If You Use A Computer All Day
At the first sign of pain, numbness, or tingling in the hand or wrist, people may assume its a sign of carpal tunnel syndromeespecially if they sit at a computer for most of the day. Just as with any repetitive motion thats done for long periods of time, typing on a keyboard or using a computer mouse all day can cause aches and stiffness in the hands and wrists. But this isnt necessarily carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome has specific symptoms that set it apart from other conditions that can cause pain and numbness in the hand. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome typically causes tingling and numbness in the thumb, index, and middle fingers, but not the ring or pinky fingers. Also, the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome is usually worse at night.
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Will Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Go Away On Its Own
We usually get this question after a patient has tried to treat the problem at home. Perhaps they are doing hand stretches and applying ice to their wrist, but no avail.
It is tough to say for sure if your condition relieves itself. At the very least, anti-inflammatories can help reduce swelling and pain.
However, the longer you wait to get treatment, your condition may worsen. Whats more is that you often guess at your diagnosis.
Concerned about carpal tunnel syndrome and think you need treatment now? Book with a physiotherapist today.
Modifying Your Hand/wrist Activities
Pressure on the nerve within the carpal tunnel is increased with forceful gripping tasks. It would make sense to take rest breaks and do stretches when you need to use the hands for heavy gripping. For example, when I am in heavy traffic and white knuckle gripping the steering wheel, my hands will go numb. A lighter grip on the wheel will help this calm down. Using vibrating power tools in the yard, such as a hedge trimmer or edger, can also flare up CTS symptoms. Gardening has also been shown in studies to contribute to CTS symptoms. Motorcycle riders often get CTS symptoms because they are forcibly gripping the handlebars and getting hand vibration from the ride. Common sense tells us to be careful with these activities and adjust how the hand is used when possible.
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What Happens After Surgery
Pain after surgery is minimized with oral or intravenous analgesics. Elevation and an ice pack for the bandaged hand can help reduce bleeding and swelling. You will be monitored for a short time. When the doctor believes you are stable, you can leave the surgery center. Be sure to bring someone to drive you home. If you have any complications, you may be required to stay longer.
Mild pain, discomfort, and swelling are common after surgery. Your doctor may recommend icing, elevation of the hand, over-the-counter pain medications or a splint to be worn at night or during various activities. Your doctor also may limit the amount of weight you can lift.
Stitches are removed 7â10 days after surgery in the doctors office.
Follow the surgeonâs home care instructions for 2 weeks after surgery or until your follow-up appointment. In general, you can expect:
- Keep the arm elevated above your heart for 48 hours.
- Avoid pushing down on your palm . Donât lift anything heavier than 5 pounds on the involved arm for one month after surgery.
- No strenuous activity including yard work, housework, and sex.
- You may drive 2 days after surgery if the pain and swelling in your arm is controlled.
- Donât drink alcohol. It thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding. Also, donât mix alcohol with pain medicines.
When to Call Your Doctor
How Can I Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by making lifestyle changes that reduce your risk factors for developing it.
Treating conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis reduces your risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Who Is At Risk Of Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. People with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that directly affect the bodys nerves and make them more susceptible to compression are also at high risk. CTS usually occurs only in adults.
Workplace factors may contribute to existing pressure on or damage to the median nerve. The risk of developing CTS is not confined to people in a single industry or job, but may be more reported in those performing assembly line worksuch as manufacturing, sewing, finishing, cleaning, and meatpackingthan it is among data-entry personnel.
Typing And Carpal Tunnel
While there is little actual evidence that typing is a direct cause of carpal tunnel, there is evidence that incorrect typing practices can make it worse. For example, incorrect positioning of the keyboard and lack of support for the wrists can put extra strain on the median nerve, making carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms worse.
Fortunately, just because typing can make your carpal tunnel syndrome worse doesnt mean you should be looking for another career. There is a lot you can do to manage your carpal tunnel symptoms, including the following ways to address the issue:
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Can I Use My Hand After Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Your wrist will likely be in a heavy bandage or a splint for 1 to 2 weeks. Doctors usually schedule another appointment to remove the bandage or splint. During this time, you may be encouraged to move your fingers to help prevent stiffness. Youll probably have pain in your hand and wrist after surgery.
Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Be Prevented Or Avoided
You can take steps to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. The following actions may help to prevent it:
- Lose weight if youre overweight.
- Get treatment for any disease you have that may cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
- If you do the same tasks over and over with your hands, try not to bend, extend, or twist your hands for long periods of time.
- Dont work with your arms too close or too far from your body.
- Dont rest your wrists on hard surfaces for long periods of time.
- Switch hands during work tasks.
- Make sure the tools you use arent too big for your hands.
- Take regular breaks from repeated hand movements to give your hands and wrists time to rest.
- If you use a keyboard a lot, adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard, and you dont have to flex your wrists to type.
Many products you can buy, such as wrist rests for a computer keyboard, are supposed to ease symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. No one has proven that these products really prevent wrist problems. Some people may have less pain and numbness after using these products, but other people may have increased pain and numbness.
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Test 1: Provocative Test For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The first test for carpal tunnel syndrome can be performed on yourself. Note that it’s best to have a partner help you. Doing so increases the accuracy of the results.
These are manual tests and are divided into 3 separate exams:Phalen, Tinel,andDurkan exams.Usually if only one of these exams are positive, then you likely have carpal tunnel syndrome. If more than one is positive, it’s nearly certain you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
These manual exams are described below.
How Doctors Test For Carpal Tunnel
The test for carpal tunnel syndrome occurs in two phases. The first test is a simple set ofmanual examsyou can do on yourself. It’s technically called a”provocative test”because you try toprovokethe symptoms.
The manual provocative test is actually the same set of exams doctors use in their office. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to perform them. They consist of thePhalen,Tinel,andDurkanexams.
If your provocative test results are positive, then see your doctor for the next test for carpal tunnel syndrome. These are electrodiagnostic exams. They consist of thenerve conductionexam andelectromyography exam.
If you’re also positive for carpal tunnel using the electrodiagnostic exams, the doctor will discuss the many treatment options available. These options are also discussed below.
You will likely try nonsurgical treatments first because they work well in most patients. If those nonsurgical remedies don’t help, then surgery may be your only other choice.
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What Is Carpal Tunnel
Carpal Tunnel also called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Carpal Tunnel Disease is a nerve entrapment disorder that affects the muscles of the wrist and palm. CTS is caused by a repetitive stress injury which leads to compression of the median nerve. Compression of the median nerve can occur from swelling of the tendon and ligament of the carpal tunnel or from other causes of irritation of the median nerve. Other risk factors include pregnancy, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. The median nerve originates from the axilla, runs down the length of the forearm, and enters the wrist through the carpal tunnel. It divides into two branches: the recurrent branch and the palmar digital branch. The recurrent branch innervates the thenar muscles, while the palmar digital branch innervates the palmar surface of the hand and part of the fingertips . Symptoms of CTS include numbness, tingling sensation, pain in the wrist, weak grip, atrophied palmar muscles, etc.
How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated in two ways: non-surgically or with surgery. There are pros and cons to both approaches. Typically, non-surgical treatments are used for less severe cases and allow you to continue with daily activities without interruption. Surgical treatments can help in more severe cases and have very positive outcomes.
Non-surgical treatments are usually tried first. Treatment begins by:
- Wearing a wrist splint at night.
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.
Other treatments focus on ways to change your environment to decrease symptoms. This is often seen in the workplace, where you can make modifications to help with carpal tunnel. These changes might include:
- Raising or lowering your chair.
- Moving your computer keyboard.
- Changing your hand/wrist position while doing activities.
- Using recommended splints, exercises and heat treatments from a hand therapist.
Surgery is recommended when carpal tunnel syndrome does not respond to non-surgical treatments or has already become severe. The goal of surgery is to increase the size of the tunnel in order to decrease the pressure on the nerves and tendons that pass through the space. This is done by cutting the ligament that covers the carpal tunnel at the base of the palm. This ligament is called the transverse carpal ligament.
If you have surgery, you can expect to:
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Ways To Ease Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Without Surgery
If youve ever experienced pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands youre not alone. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common cause of loss of function and pain in peripheral nerves due to chronic compression, otherwise known as entrapment neuropathy. Luckily, there are several ways to ease the uncomfortable symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome so you can get back to living your life on your terms.
Within 2 Weeks Of Discharge
This period of carpal tunnel surgery recovery lasts about 10-14 days. At the end you’ll have a follow-up visit with the surgeon. They will remove the bandages, examine the wound, and remove the stitches. You’ll also get a soft padded brace for your hand and wrist to wear for the next month.
From this point on you can drive a car and do most of the other things you could not since surgery. As a rule, this is particular carpal tunnel surgery recovery time period is important. That’s because you will begin physical therapy and hand rehabilitation programs. You will have lost significant strength and dexterity, and this time period helps restore that.
Studies showthat patients who commit to a regular hand therapy and rehabilitation program have better hand function in the long run. As you perform more and more vigorous hand activities, like going back to work, you must keep the rehab going strong.
Physical therapy stretches, range of motion exercises and hand strengthening all add up to a healthy and successful recovery. In other words, yourdrive and attitudetoward restoring your hand is crucially important.
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