Carpal tunnel syndrome is a debilitating wrist disorder that accounts for a tremendous amount of lost labor every year. According to Balance Health Systems, carpal tunnel syndrome accounts for the longest absences from work amongst any leading cause. If you have been diagnosed with this disorder and are a working professional, there is a good chance that you need to return to work as soon as possible. It is important that you are educated on steps that can be taken to alleviate symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Before you begin treating carpal tunnel syndrome, it is first important that you understand what the disorder is. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an overuse injury that leads to swelling and compression within the flexor retinaculum of the wrist, commonly known as the carpal tunnel. This ligamentous tunnel contains the tendons of the finger flexor muscles, as well as the median nerve. Compression of these structures leads to weakness of the hand as well as numbness and tingling.
How Can It Be Treated?
For some patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, a surgical release is often necessary. However, if this course of treatment is not possible for you, symptoms of carpal tunnel can be treated conservatively.
During the initial phases of treatment, it is important that you rest the affected wrist! Remember, carpal tunnel syndrome is an overuse injury. Unfortunately, you may need to miss a couple of weeks of work. This period of rest is a necessary precaution that must be taken in order to prevent secondary complications. You can sacrifice a couple of missed weeks in order to avoid a couple of missed months.
During this resting stage, you will need to take steps to alleviate the swelling in the wrist. Ice packs applied for fifteen minutes at a time, three times a day, are generally effective in accomplishing this task. Do not apply any sort of compression wrap! The structures within the tunnel are already compressed due to the swelling.
The numbness and tingling that you may be experiencing is due to the entrapped median nerve within the carpal tunnel. In order to remedy these symptoms, you will need to loosen up the nerve. This can be accomplished through simple exercises called nerve glides. In order to perform a nerve glide, gently extend the wrist until you feel a tightness in the middle of your forearm. Then, flex the wrist back. Repeat this movement for about thirty seconds at a time, twice daily.
Oftentimes, strength deficits at the elbow and shoulder contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. You should regularly perform a set of exercises that strengthens the muscles around these two joints. Consult a physical therapist, such as at Kleiser Therapy, who can develop a personalized, effective strengthening plan just for you.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common, nagging injury that can affect your life severely. Fortunately, these are simple steps that you can follow in order to rid yourself of these symptoms. Follow this simple regimen, and get back to work quickly!