hat is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, is the numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hand caused by excess pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. This pain may extend up into the arm, between the hand and elbow. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects between 3%-6% of Americans aged 18-64 each year.
Often times, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the overuse of the hand, fingers and wrist due to extended time using a computer or laptop. The numbness and/or pain can cause swelling of the wrist that can keep you from getting valuable work done at your computer.
Certain illnesses or conditions have been shown to increase the likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome. These include hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Even smoking may increase the risk of CTS by reducing blood flow to the wrists and hands. In addition, women who may be pregnant may also be at an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
So, what can we do if we are feeling the effects of CTS?
The following methods have been shown to reduce swelling and pain caused by CTS:
- Reduce wrist activity and/or rest your wrist longer between activities.
- Ice your wrist for 10 to 15 minutes 1 or 2 times an hour.
- Try taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
- Try wearing a wrist splint at night. This tends to take pressure off your median nerve.
- When you type, keep your wrists straight, with your hands a little higher than your wrists. Relax your shoulders when your arms are at your sides.
While these methods may help to reduce some of the pain and swelling caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, certain cases may be more serious, and may require physical therapy or even surgery.
At the Spine & Orthopedic Center, we may be able to help ease your pain. Each case is different, and after a careful consultation, specific physical therapy practices, stretches or exercises may be recommended for certain patients. Find out more about the causes and treatment options for CTS by visiting the Spine & Orthopedic Center today.