If you don’t know, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure created on the median nerve due to the continuous use of computers for long hours. Due to compression or squeezing of the median nerve, people often experience this condition, and mostly the reason is due to a lot of workloads.
In today’s age, people are often on their computers and smartphones for a longer duration, which leads to our hands and wrist developing repetitive strain injuries.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can get worse over time in case you haven’t gone for a treatment that has been long pending. Things like repetitive motion injuries happen when a person keeps repeating the same motion all the time (typing & clicking), causing numbness, pain, and tingling sensation in the hand.
In this digital age when everyone is going through repeated motions of the hand and wrist, mostly due to excess computer usage involving scrolling, typing, and clicking.
An astonishing 3 million cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are filed every year in the United States. Similarly, other countries in Europe face higher numbers too of CTS.
In terms of facts, your dominant hand is mostly affected in the beginning. As it is an inflammatory disease, any repetitive thing in terms of your profession can result in the tendons or wrist muscles getting inflamed.
Who is at Risk of getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There is a greater chance of having Carpal tunnel syndrome in case you work every day for long hours. However, having the risk of developing CTS isn’t limited to individuals working on their computers continuously.
Have a look at the situation that might lead to carpal tunnel syndrome:
- People involved in assembly line work – cleaning, sewing, packing, or manufacturing. Additionally, carpenters, cooks, and housekeepers are at high risk too.
- Women have a higher chance of developing this condition as compared to men. The reason is that carpal tunnel is smaller in women and hormonal changes like menopause are an additional reason for being more susceptible.
- People having arthritis have a higher risk of having CTS.
- Smoking hampers the proper flow of blood to the median nerve, resulting in smokers developing this condition.
- If you have diabetes, it increases your chances.
- A Wrist fracture is fairly common in older people. With swelling and deformity in a fracture, carpal tunnel syndrome can develop in no time.
Identifying Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Several ways can help you identify whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome or not. Check it out:
- Pain or tingling sensation that can stretch from the forearm to your shoulder.
- Your hand gets weak and clumsy to perform the most basic movements like ironing clothes or buttoning shirts.
- Wrist pain that stays for a long time.
- Sensations that are like a sudden shock to your thumb and other fingers.
- Hands are unable to hold on to objects and end up dropping them most of the time.
- Burning, pain, numbness in the thumb, and radiating to the rest of the fingers as well.
The doctor will be checking your medical history and then discuss symptoms and examine you properly. There will be a physical examination of the wrist, hands, arms, shoulder, and neck to know whether the pain is due to CTS or other related injuries.
Certain tests are performed on the patient to get a clear picture of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of them are as follows:
1. Wrist Flexion Test
In this particular test, the elbows of the patient are rested on a table, and let the wrist falls forward freely. People having CTS will experience a tingling sensation or numbness in their fingers within a minute. When the symptoms appear in a jiffy, it is almost certain that the patient has severe carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. Tinel’s Sign
The physician would be tapping on the median nerve of the wrist to check whether the patient feels a tingling sort of sensation in the fingers.
3. Electromyography & Nerve Conduction Studies
This study decides how the median nerve is working, and how it can control muscle movement.
X-rays can be done on the wrist in case there is limited movement, a case of trauma, or arthritis.
Remedies for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is the option for you in case you are having CTS? There is nothing to worry about as there are numerous home and professional remedies an individual can undertake to reduce the effects of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Medications – Medications are very helpful, and one of the well-known medications prescribed by doctors for a condition like CTS is Ibuprofen. It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which does help in mitigating the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, it is known for having heavy side effects in the form of itching, dizziness, headache, etc.
- Wrist Splint – It is a brace that resembles a lot like a fingerless glove. It focuses on reducing the pressure on the median nerve along with keeping your wrist stable. A wrist splint is highly recommended for those suffering from CTS.
- Hand & Wrist Exercises – There are a bunch of hand and wrist exercises that help in focusing on the areas affected by carpal tunnel syndrome. These exercises help in better blood circulation and strengthen the muscles.
- Hydrotherapy – When a certain area is inflamed, there is a treatment known as hydrotherapy. This is an age-old process in which the hands and wrists are placed in cold water for about 30 seconds. Later on, alternating it with hot water for the same time duration. Thrice a day for a week is good enough for you.
- Using Ergonomic Equipment – Carpal tunnel syndrome does occur due to heavy usage of a traditional mouse and keyboard. It can take a toll on your body, which can have long-lasting effects. You can go for a split keyboard and an ergonomic mouse that offers a lot of support to the hands and avoids the awkward position of the wrist. Also, a laptop stand is an essential utility that provides an imperative tilt to make your hands feel more comfortable while typing.
- Cortisone Injections – Cortisone injections can be a good way to deal with CTS. However, repeated applications of it can result in the weakening of tissues.
- Surgery – This is probably done when your symptoms haven’t improved over time. The most well-known surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is to relieve pressure on your median nerve in which the transverse carpal ligament is cut. This is mostly the last resort when the above-mentioned ones do not take effect.
CTS Hand Exercises
An ideal way of dealing with the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is by doing regular hand exercises. They tend to offer a better way of tackling CTS naturally. There are many hand exercises that you should follow regularly and also when you start experiencing pain in the wrist and hands.
- Forearm Extensor Exercise – Firstly, extend the arm in front of you and the elbow should be straight, while the palms face down. The wrist of yours needs to be bent, so that the fingers point upwards, contract later.
- Finger Exercise – Do stretch the fingers back together and maintain this position for roughly 5 seconds. Each finger needs to be stretched separately by holding it for 10 seconds and then you can release it. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
- Tendon Glides – This is an interesting one, as the palm face down, bend the fingers gently till your knuckles are bent. The fingertips may touch the pads of the hand. Keep this position for roughly 3 seconds until you go back to the open-hand position.
- Wrist Stretch – Bend the wrist either forward or backward, while you hold the position for 5 seconds. You can also use the other hand to help you out. For each wrist, sets of 15 should be perfect.
- Wrist Flexion – You can use a dumbbell for performing this exercise. Sit tight with support to your forearm and the palm facing up. Slightly pull the wrist in an upward direction, while your forearm is placed flat on the table.
- Grip Strengthening – You can use a stress ball to squeeze it in the hand for roughly 5 seconds and release it. Repeat this procedure 15 times in both your hands.
CTS can be a big hindrance in your life that might keep you away from enjoying what you want to do. Treating it with therapy and exercises can bring in a huge improvement and remove symptoms completely.
Carpal tunnel syndrome has affected many people around the world due to the current work culture that involves a lot of computer usage. To tackle such a condition as CTS, there are many remedies and hand exercises that we’ve mentioned above in the article.