How Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Be Prevented
At the workplace, workers can do on-the-job conditioning, perform stretching exercises, take frequent rest breaks, and use correct posture and wrist position. Wearing fingerless gloves can help keep hands warm and flexible. Workstations, tools and tool handles, and tasks can be redesigned to enable the workers wrist to maintain a natural position during work. Jobs can be rotated among workers. Employers can develop programs in ergonomics, the process of adapting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of workers. However, research has not conclusively shown that these workplace changes prevent the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
1. Wearing a splint during the night
Initial treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome involves wearing a splint during the night.; The splint prevents your wrist from bending, reducing excess pressure on the nerve, thereby helping to reduce your pain at night.
2. Checking daily activity isnt causing further pain
Modify daily activities that are aggravating symptoms.; This may include taking more frequent breaks with repetitive tasks, or altering your technique so the wrist is in a better position.
3. Ice packs during the day, heat packs before bed
Ice packs can help if the wrist is red, warm and swollen.; You can also use heat packs before bed to help relax the muscles and alleviate your pain
Anti-inflammatories can be taken to help provide some pain relief in the short term.
4. If pain persists, see a physiotherapist
If pain persists, you should seek out a physiotherapist to assist in alleviating pain, and ensuring the next right steps are taken for treatment.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Your treatment will depend on your symptoms and how far your condition has progressed. You might need:
- Lifestyle changes. If repetitive motion is causing your symptoms, take breaks more often or do a bit less of the activity thatâs causing you pain.
- Exercises. Stretching or strengthening moves can make you feel better. Nerve gliding exercises can help the nerve move better within your carpal tunnel.
- Immobilization. Your doctor may tell you to wear a splint to keep your wrist from moving and to lessen pressure on your nerves. You may wear one at night to help get rid of that numbness or tingling feeling. This can help you sleep better and rest your median nerve.
- Medication. Your doctor may give you anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid shots to curb swelling.
- Surgery. If none of those treatments works, you might have an operation called carpal tunnel release that increases the size of the tunnel and eases the pressure on your nerve.
Don’t Miss: Wrist Sprain Vs Fracture Symptoms
Suggestions For Use In The Clinic:
In 2005, Wainner et al published a level IV CPR to assist in identifying patients presenting with carpal tunnel syndrome.When 4/5 tests are positive the positive Likelihood Ratio is 4.6, and if all of the tests are positive it increases to 18.3. These are significantly higher than positive Likelihood Ratio of other individual tests used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.However, a level IV CPR means the rule has been developed but not validated and further evaluation is required before the rule can be applied clinically, therefore, further research is needed to validate this CPR.
Why It Is Done
A physical exam with a focus on your neck, arms, wrists, and hands is done if there is tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain of the fingers, thumb, or hand. The exam is to help find out whether your symptoms are caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist .
Also Check: How To Ease Sciatica Pain In Buttocks
Don’t Miss: Does Lidocaine Work For Nerve Pain
What Are The Occupational Factors Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke indicates that carpal tunnel syndrome is “often the result of a combination of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel, rather than a problem with the nerve itself”.
Carpal tunnel syndrome has been associated with certain tasks including:
- Repetitive hand motions.
- Mechanical stress on the palm.
Those workers performing assembly line work – including manufacturing, finishing, cleaning, and meat/poultry/fish packaging – commonly report this injury. Cashiers, hairdressers, or knitters or sewers are examples of people whose work-related tasks involve the repetitive wrist movements associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Bakers who flex or extend the wrist while kneading dough, and people who flex the fingers and wrist in tasks such as milking cows, using a spray paint gun, and hand-weeding are other examples. Excessive use of vibrating hand tools may also be related to carpal tunnel syndrome.
A possible link between carpal tunnel syndrome and computer mouse use is uncertain. While keyboarding work is generally not a risk factor for developing carpal tunnel syndrome, it can cause pain and exacerbate symptoms for those who already have the condition.
Note that the repetitive motions required for keyboard work and the use of a computer mouse may be related to the development of other injuries.
- Use of oral contraceptives.
Diagnosis: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In the course of the physicians diagnosis, a series of medical tests should determine whether there is a carpal tunnel syndrome, or whether it is another condition with similar symptoms.
First of all, the location and type of pain and restrictions are determined by asking the patient the relevant questions.
The following clinical tests can then be used to make more precise assumptions regarding the causes :
- Tinel’s signIn this clinical test, tapping over a superficial nerve indicates whether or not the nerve is damaged. In the case of a suspected carpal tunnel syndrome, the inside of the wrist is tapped. If the affected person feels an uncomfortable, electrifying feeling in the thumb, index finger, or middle finger, the test is positive. This means that the median nerve is damaged due to compression in the carpal tunnel.
- Phalen’s testIn this clinical test, the patient is asked to hold their wrists in complete flexion for a maximum of 2 minutes. If the test is positive, the patient feels tingling or mild numbness in their thumb, index finger, or middle finger.
- Bottle testThe patient is requested to grasp a cylindrical object . If the test is positive, the patient cannot close all their fingers around the bottle due to the weakened thumb or finger muscles.
Electrophysiological examinations such as electromyography or electroneurography can also be used to test the nerve conduction velocity, where necessary.
Don’t Miss: Is Mobic Good For Sciatica Pain
Surgery For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The bodys healing process will rejoin the severed ends of the transverse carpal ligament and the resulting scar tissue should not press so hard on the underlying nerve. The surgeon may operate on one or both wrists at the same time.
The pain and numbness might improve immediately, or over time. Generally, you should rest your hand for a number of weeks after the operation.
Before undergoing the operation, your doctor will discuss some questions with you, such as:
- Whether the operation will be performed under local or general anaesthetic
- With general anaesthetic, whether you need to go into hospital the night before
- Whether any of the medications, herbs, or vitamin and mineral supplements you usually take might interfere with surgical medications.
Application Of Heat Or Cold
Applying heat or cold seems to relieve pain and may accelerate the repair process.
Cold reduces pain and swelling and is recommended for injuries and inflammations . The use of ice it is not recommended in case of muscle pain because cold temperature will contract the muscle even more. Application of ice on painful muscle is recommended only immediately after an injury occurred, and only for few days.
Heat is recommended for muscle pain relief. Heat increases the flow of blood which facilitates the elimination of lactic acid build up. It is not recommended for injuries with significant inflammation and swelling.
Also Check: Can Blueberries Cause Gas
The Median Nerve: The Most Important Part Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Anatomy
The most essential component of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome anatomy is the median nerve. This important nerve begins as part of the brachial plexus of nerves. It originates at the neck, passes under the collarbone and across the front of the shoulder.;
At the front of the shoulder, the brachial plexus divides forming the three separate nerves: median, ulnar and radial. From that point on, the median nerve is considered a separate entity in the anatomy of the arm.
The median nerve pathway continues down the arm, passing through a seam of fascia between the biceps and triceps muscles on the inside of the upper arm. It then travels through the elbow area, and down the inside of the forearm into the wrist and hand. Ultimately, the median nerve terminates in the thumb, index and middle fingers.
The median nerve is responsible for bringing feeling to the palm side of the hand and wrist, the thumb, the index and middle fingers and sometimes to part of the ring finger.
What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge of the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. ;The NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.
Scientists supported by the NINDS are studying the factors that lead to long-lasting neuropathies, and how the affected nerves are related to symptoms of pain, numbness, and functional loss. Researchers also are examining biomechanical stresses that contribute to the nerve damage responsible for symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in order to better understand, treat, and prevent this ailment. By quantifying the distinct biomechanical pressures from fluid and anatomical structures, researchers are finding ways to limit or prevent CTS in the workplace and decrease other costly and disabling occupational illnesses.
Scientists funded through NIHs National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health are investigating the effects of acupuncture on pain, loss of median nerve function, and changes in the brain associated with CTS. In addition, a randomized clinical trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment in conjunction with standard medical care is underway. Evaluations of these therapies and other therapies will help to tailor individual treatment programs.
Don’t Miss: Heat Or Ice For Sciatica
The Wrist Bones And Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The wrist bones are the second most important part of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome anatomy.
The wrist is made up of several small carpal bones which form an arch of bone, the open part of the arch on the palm side of the hand. Passing through this arch, known as the carpal tunnel, are several tendons, blood vessels and the median nerve.
Typically, when the space in this arch is compressed or reduced in volume for any reason, unusual pressure is placed on the tendons and median nerve that occupy this space and the nerve becomes irritated. This causes symptoms typical of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome like numbness, tingling and weakness of the thumb and first two fingers.
How Can Physiotherapy Help With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
,,Physiotherapy treatment is beneficial in relieving carpal tunnel pain through joint mobilisations, nerve and tendon gliding exercises, as well as soft tissue work to the surrounding tight muscles in the wrist.
We will prescribe you with a comprehensive exercise program consisting of stretching and strength work for your wrist and hand.; We can also provide you with a splint for night time which will limit wrist bending. And therefore reduce your night pain.; We will offer you advice on how you can modify your aggravating activities, and optimise your work station set up to help reduce your symptoms.
In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.; A carpal tunnel release would be performed to reduce the pressure on the nerve.; Physiotherapy is required after surgery to help restore your range of motion and strength.
Also Check: How Do You Know If Your Wrist Is Sprained
Progression Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Not every case of carpal tunnel syndrome will cause permanent pain or impairment. Symptoms may appear and disappear for years. In many cases, the symptoms disappear on their own after 6 months at the latest, even without treatment. However, the progression of the disease may also be extremely painful, and may worsen over time.
Generally, carpal tunnel syndrome is easy to treat. Serious consequential damage is extremely rare if the condition is treated early.
How Can We Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome may involve redesigning work stations, tools, or the job, and educating workers. Proper work station design reduces awkward wrist positions and minimizes the stressful effects of repetitive motions. Awkward positions can originate from unsuitable work station designs that do not take into account the size and proportions of the human body. Work stations should be adjustable and should accommodate a vast majority of people who work in that area.
Redesigning work methods is important. For example, using an adjustable fixture to hold an electrical housing, as Figure 3 shows, reduces wrist flexion.
Read Also: Do Lidocaine Patches Work For Sciatica
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.
Physical Stresses Affecting Nerve Function
As posited by Mueller and Maluf , the Physical Stress Theory holds that there are several stress mechanisms that affect how tissues react and change the functionality when exposed to disuse, overuse, or injury.
When immobilized , peripheral nerves are exposed to levels of physical stress lower than the equilibrium level . According to the Physical Stress Theory, as a result, the nerve will undergo physiological and structural modifications to atrophy due to the levels of reduced stress and duration of immobilization. In fact, in a study performed by Pachter and Eberstein, they discovered that with as little as 3 weeks of immobilization in the hind limb of rats, this led to myelin degeneration.
Nerve tissue response during various levels of longitudinal tensile stress is dependent on the duration and magnitude of the stress. Increasing the nerve length can affect nerve blood flow, impact nerve conduction velocity with impaired recovery and induce functional changes. Current research indicates that lengthening nerves acutely between 6-8% causes fleeting physiological changes that appear to be on the higher side of the normal stress tolerance of the nerve tissue, whereas acute strains of 11% and greater cause long-term damage and are considered as excessive or extreme stress states based on Mueller and Malufâs Physical Stress Theory.
Read Also: Heating Pad For Piriformis Syndrome
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome At Home
How To Correct Problems With Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Anatomy
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome requires careful and gentle stretching of just the right tissue, in the right order, to successfully correct the causes of your symptoms. You can learn everything you need to know, including the most recommended stretches and complete instruction in the program I have designed for you. Click here for more information.
Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?
Don’t Miss: Is Heat Or Ice Good For Nerve Pain
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.
Conventional Carpal Tunnel Release
Surgical decompression of the carpal tunnel via transection of the flexor retinaculum was first described by Sir James Learmonth in 1933, and multiple series since have reported patient satisfaction rates of 70% to 96% with the procedure.41 The goal of surgery is to successfully divide the TCL and decompress the median nerve while preserving its recurrent motor and palmar cutaneous branches. The traditional open carpal tunnel release is performed using loupe magnification with the patient under locally injected anesthesia with or without mild sedation in an outpatient operating room setting. With the patient positioned supine, the affected arm is abducted and the forearm is supinated on a hand table or an arm board without the use of a tourniquet . Following a sterile prep and drape, the incision begins at the distal wrist crease and extends 3 to 4 cm distally in a curvilinear fashion parallel with and approximately 2 mm ulnar to the midpalmar crease . The incision ends at or near the level of the distal border of the thumb and may be extended proximally, if necessary, for about 1 cm to create an S-shaped incision. Care must be taken to avoid sectioning branches of the palmar cutaneous nerve during the proximal segment of the skin incision. With experience, the entire incision may be minimized to anywhere from 1.5 to 3 cm in length and still allow for complete division of the TCL .
Recommended Reading: Mobic For Ra