Monday, August 15, 2022

How To Help Ease Carpal Tunnel Pain

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Oral Pain Medication Not so Fast.

Often patients and Doctors turn immediately to Oral Pain Medication or sleep medication in a frantic effort to relieve pain, sleep loss and life disruptions associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, for a chronic syndrome like CTS, treating it with pain medication or sleep medication is a mistake.

For some conditions, Oral Pain Medication can be effective in relieving pain in the short term. As long as there is a solid treatment plan to deal with the cause of the pain this is a reasonable approach.

However, In the case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome blood circulation is restricted due to the trapped inflammation and trapped lymphatic fluid that is causing pressure on the Median Nerve in the Carpal Tunnel.

These trapped fluids become toxic and thick they gel and are difficult to remove blocking your bodys natural healing process. They also make it difficult for pain medication to reach the source of the problem because blood flow is so restricted.

Even anti-inflammatory medication which in theory would help to get the inflammation and lymphatic fluid moving is not able to help much, because insufficient levels of the active anti-inflammatory agents are delivered to the injured tissue with CTS. Again, this is due to the restricted blood flow in the extremity of the hand caused by the trapped toxic fluids.

Swollen Tendons Crush The Median Nerve

When tendons swell inside the confined carpal tunnel area, they have no place to swell except against the median nerve. As a result,the tendons crush the nerve. And thats what causes all of thesigns of carpal tunnel syndromelike pain, numbness, tingling , burning, soreness, and weakness in the hand and fingers.

With even more swelling youlose grip strengthand pinch strength. The continued crushing of the median nerve also leads to loss of hot and cold sensations in the fingers.

Perhaps the most profound change is the sharp increase in pain intensity. Patients describe theseverepain as “punishing” or “cruel”. This intense pain is what usually drives patients to consider surgery.

So before all this happens, make sure you get effective carpal tunnel pain relief to nip it in the bud. The last thing you want to face iscarpal tunnel release surgerywhen it could have been avoided.

Open Carpal Tunnel Release

Your surgeon makes a small cut near the lower section of your palm near your wrist. The surgeon then cuts the carpal ligament, which reduces pressure on your median nerve. Depending on your case, the surgeon may also remove tissue from around the nerve. The surgeon applies a few stitches to close the wound and then covers the area with a bandage.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

These are the most common symptoms:

  • Weakness when gripping objects with one or both hands

  • Pain or numbness in one or both hands

  • “Pins and needles” feeling in the fingers

  • Swollen feeling in the fingers

  • Burning or tingling in the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers

  • Pain or numbness that is worse at night, interrupting sleep

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may be similar to other medical conditions or problems. Always see your health care provider for a diagnosis.

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Traditional Treatments For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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More serious cases of carpal tunnel syndrome may require your doctors help.

Your doctor may recommend corticosteroids to lessen your pain and inflammation. These drugs reduce the amount of swelling and pressure placed on the median nerve. Injections are more effective than oral steroids. This therapy may be particularly effective if your CTS is caused by inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Your doctor may also recommend surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve. This typically involves making one or two incisions in the area affected and cutting the ligament involved. This will release the nerve and increase the space around the nerve.

The ligament will eventually grow back, allowing more space for your nerve than there was before. If your CTS is severe, surgery may not clear up your symptoms completely, but it should help you feel better and help prevent any further damage to the nerve.

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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.

Ways To Alleviate Pain From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the compression of the median nerve as it passes into the hand. The median nerve provides the thumb, index finger, long finger, and part of the ring finger the ability to feel . This condition can cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both hands.

Causes

Carpal tunnel pain is a result of excess pressure in your wrist and the median nerve. Inflammation is what causes compression of the median nerve. There are several underlying conditions that may cause the inflammation such as:

  • Fluid retention caused by pregnancy or menopause
  • Fractures or trauma to the wrist

Who is most at risk?

Women are three times at higher risk of having carpal tunnel syndrome than men. Age is also a factor given that it is most frequently diagnosed between the ages 30 to 60. Here are some more risk factors:

  • High body mass index
  • High salt intake
  • Jobs with repetitive movement such as construction, assembly line work, manufacturing, and keyboarding occupation.
  • A family member with small carpal tunnels.
  • Fractured or dislocated wrist

Symptoms

We know that most symptoms occur in the wrist but here are the more detailed symptoms:

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed by administering the following tests:

Treatments

  • Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel area.
  • Yoga .
  • Physical and occupational therapy. Therapy can help strengthen your hand and wrist muscles. You can also learn new routine motions to ease stress on your hands and wrist.

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How Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Happens

Today we understand a lot more about carpal tunnel syndrome than we did a decade ago. It happens due to malfunctions in the chemistry of the wrist’sflexor tendons. These tendons are the ropy structures running from the hand to the forearm, on the palm side.

The flexor tendons are responsible for moving your fingers and producing grasping actions. Normally, the tendons glide effortlessly next to each other. But when they malfunction, they no longer provide smooth movement.The key to ALL carpal tunnel pain relief is to make tendons glide smoothly again.

The following are the 3 primary steps that produce carpal tunnel syndrome.

Find Pain Relief For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain Relief – Ask Doctor Jo

Your carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of bones and ligaments in the wrist that protects the median nerve, a main nerve in your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tunnel narrows and crowds the median nerve. This occurs as a result of repetitive hand motions, certain diseases, wrist injury or obesity. Women who experience fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause are also at risk. Excess pressure placed on the nerve causes pain, numbness or weakness in the hand. You may find it difficult to carry on with daily activities because of pain or get a full night of sleep because pain worsens at night.

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, seeking treatment early is important to prevent lasting nerve damage. Early treatment may also help you avoid surgery.

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Work At A Computer It Could Be Worsening The Condition

If you work a desk job, whether at home or in an office setting, your hands may be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Poor workspace setups put excessive stress on your wrists and hands. Heres how to set up a successful workspace to avoid trauma or injury:

Keyboard: Wrists should stay in a neutral position while typing. Do not angle your keyboard or prop it up on the keyboard legs. This can place your wrists in an awkward, bended position.

Desk: To keep your elbows and wrists in a neutral position, your desk should be 27 to 29 inches off floor . For higher desks, try adjusting your chair height or adding a cushion to your seat.

Desk pads: Add light padding to protect wrists from resting too long on a hard surface. Wrist rests can also help with discomfort, but make sure they are flexible enough to allow your hand to stay in a neutral position.

Timer: A desktop timer can remind you to take small breaks from repetitive typing or hand motions. Try setting a timer for a 10-minute break every hour.

Space heater: Warm muscles are less likely to get injured. If your office space stays chilly, a mini desk heater can be an inexpensive option to keep your hands warm.

When To Consider Carpal Tunnel Surgery

When CTS management strategies arent effective against moderate to severe carpal tunnel pain, it may be time for a more aggressive treatment approach. Initially, this typically involves anti-inflammatory cortisone steroid injections over the long term, it usually means surgery.

Whether you need help managing CTS or youre already considering surgery, we can help. your nearest Sports Medicine Oregon location in Tigard or Wilsonville, Oregon, today, or use the easy online booking feature to request an appointment with our orthopedic team any time.

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Signs Of Carpal Tunnel At Night

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are often first felt at night then progresses to daytime. Those who have experienced carpal tunnel describe having numbness and pain, especially in the palm, thumb, index, and middle finger. These feelings can become so severe that it can be difficult to hold small objects in your hands or even make a fist.

Everyone experiences carpal tunnel syndrome in their own way. It can vary significantly from person to person. Here is a list of the most common nighttime symptoms, you may experience some or all of them.

  • Pain, mild to severe
  • Difficulty identifying hot or cold at the touch
  • Inadvertently dropping objects

Its important to address carpal tunnel symptoms as soon as possible. The median nerve runs through your wrist. Carpal tunnel symptoms happen when it becomes pinched or compressed which can lead to nerve damage. Always talk to your doctor for medical advice on the best course of treatment for your situation.

Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

How to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Pain? â 5 Tips

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented. Take proactive steps now to save you from pain in the future. Heres what to do:

  • Avoid activities that cause you to bend or twist your hands for long periods of time.
  • Find treatment for inflammatory diseases that cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Keep your grip relaxed.
  • Use tools that fit your hand size.

Learn more about our full range of primary care services.

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Give Your Wrist A Break

Because CTS pain is usually exacerbated by repetitive, hand or wrist-intensive activities like writing, typing, playing video games, knitting, yoga, or weightlifting, its important to identify any activities that may be contributing to your problem. Modify, reduce, or take a break from those activities until your symptoms subside.

Once youve rested your wrist and your symptoms have abated, you can resume your normal routine with care. Regular periods of dedicated rest are key to managing persistent CTS.

Take Breaks From Repetitive Tasks

Any activity that involves repeatedly straining the wrist can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Whether youre typing, using a hand drill, or playing video games, try taking 10 to 15-minute breaks every hour. During these breaks, stretch your hands and move your wrists to improve blood flow to these areas.

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Common Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Pins and needles in the fingers and palms
  • Numbness and hands falling asleep
  • Restrictions in tactile perception and coordination skills
  • Pain in the wrist and forearm in the morning or at night
  • Pain when the hand moves
  • Restricted mobility in the thumb
  • Loss of strength in the hand and wrist
  • Atrophy on the thenar eminence

In many cases, both hands are affected equally.

Perform Wrist Exercises And Therapy

Forearm Stretching for Relieving Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain : Carpal Tunnel

Here are a few wrist exercises you can try to relieve pain:

  • Shake It Out: Once an hour for one or two minutes, shake your hands as if youre trying to air dry them after washing them. By doing this, youre helping to keep your hand flexor muscles and the median nerve from becoming tight and cramped during the day. You may already be doing this just by washing your hands frequently throughout the day.
  • Wrist Flex and Extend: For this exercise, youll hold your arm in front of you straight out, keeping your hand and wrist straight and palm facing down. Start bending your wrist down, so youre pointing your fingers toward the floor. Using your other hand, start pulling your fingers gently toward your body to help increase the stretch. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Now, return to a neutral, straight wrist position with palm still facing down. Begin bending your wrist up, so youre pointing your fingertips toward the ceiling. Gently pull your fingers with the other hand back toward you, holding the position for another 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times a few times a day.
  • Stretch It Out: Whether youre sitting at your desk or standing in line at your local grocery store, you can perform this simple and quick wrist exercise. Make a fist and release, so your fingers are straight again. Continue performing this exercise up to 10 times to help relieve any pressure you may have in your wrist.

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Helpful Life Hacks For Carpal Tunnel Pain

When you have the wrist or hand pain and tingling of carpal tunnel syndrome, it may seem like surgery is the only answer. But there are measures you can take to either avoid or postpone surgery and still have good quality of life.

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1.Give wrists a restOne of the risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive or extreme wrist motion, so simply resting the wrists and keeping them in a neutral position as much as possible can ease pain and numbness.

See Causes and Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

2.Use a wrist braceBracing the wrist is one of the most reliable ways to stabilize the wrist and ease carpal tunnel pain. When selecting a brace, choose a structured, firm option that will immobilize the wrist, as opposed a flexible one made of neoprene or elastic.

See Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

3.Elevate hands, especially during sleepElevating the hands and wrists can help ease inflammation, particularly at night. This can be done by sleeping on your back and propping your wrists up on pillows. Since keeping your arms straight can also help, try wrapping a towel or ace bandage around your elbows.

5.Ask about job rotationIf your job involves activities such as repetitive assembly line work, talk with your employer about the possibility of rotating tasks to give your wrists and hands a rest.

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Stretch #: Tendon Glides

You may want to warm up and cool down when doing this one, too. You can also perform this exercise after the medial nerve glides.

  • Hold your hand up in the stop position, with your thumb at the side of your hand and your palm facing away from your body. Hold the position for 3 seconds.
  • Bend the tips of your fingers so that theyre touching the top of your palm. Hold the position for 3 seconds.
  • Now make a full fist with your thumb over your fingers. Hold the position for 3 seconds.
  • Move through these 3 positions 5 to 10 times, and then switch hands. You can add more repetitions as the exercise gets easier. Repeat 2 to 3 times a day.

In addition to stretches such as these, Willis adds that some overall healthy habits can help lessen the symptoms of CTS. These include:

  • Minimizing how often you do repetitive tasks
  • Giving your hands a break every now and again
  • Reducing the speed and force of activities you do with your hands
  • Avoiding tasks that involve vibration
  • Using adaptive equipment, such as rubber jar openers and ergonomic mouse pads, to reduce the force you need to complete certain tasks

These stretches can be a great starting point for addressing mild carpal tunnel pain. Discuss any concerns with your doctor, though. Theyll make sure youre doing everything you can to find relief.

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Physical And Occupational Therapy

An occupational or physical therapist can help in a couple of ways. They may give you exercises to stretch and strengthen your hand and wrist muscles. They can also show you how to change your routine motions in a way that eases stress on your hands and wrists. That can be especially helpful when it comes to tasks related to work or your favorite hobbies.

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