Carpal tunnel syndrome is not usually considered a serious issue, and many ignore it for years before seeking treatment. However, we encourage people who believe they are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome to reach out to a health professional immediately: this condition indicates nerve compression or damage within your carpal tunnel and can be prevented through a variety of treatment options.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel is usually reasonably easy to diagnose: symptoms include numbness, pain, or pins-and-needles originating in the wrist and sometimes radiating up the forearm or to the tips of your fingers. However, pain levels can vary wildly between patients: some will experience a slight stinging or numbness, as though their hand has “fallen asleep,” while others will experience a powerful, stinging sensation which makes continued use of their hand nearly impossible. The severity of pain all depends on the severity of the nerve being pinched or damaged, and the intensity of the activity causing the carpal tunnel.
One observation that is usually a giveaway for carpal tunnel — versus a pulled hand muscle or joint inflammation — is its chronic nature. If an activity is causing or exacerbating your carpal tunnel, your symptoms will likely continue for many days or weeks. If you have observed continued wrist pain for a long time, it is likely you have a form of carpal tunnel.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel
There are several main reasons you may be experiencing carpal tunnel, some of which you can control through lifestyle changes. These include:
- Repeated movements of your wrist – the carpal tunnel — a pathway for nerves — is located in your wrist. Repeatedly moving your wrist can put a strain on your tendons, causing them to swell and compress your carpal tunnel.
- Genetics – Unfortunately, genetics do play a significant part in determining whether you will experience carpal tunnel throughout your life. You may have a more narrow carpal tunnel or other anatomical differences which raise your chances of experiencing these symptoms
- Wrist positioning – Often the issue is not so much that you are repeating movements of your wrist, but that you have a poor wrist posture which places an added strain on your carpal tunnel. Avoiding hyperextension of your wrist, as well as minimizing the range of motion used in regular wrist activities can help.
- Chemical changes – Changes in your body’s chemical makeup can also cause swelling and carpal tunnel symptoms. Pregnancy, diabetes and thyroid issues are all associated with the condition.
Several effective methods are available to treat your carpal tunnel. These include:
- Splinting – the most common treatment for carpal tunnel is bracing your wrist so it does not move, mitigating further pain and helping your body heal without further interruptions.
- Lifestyle changes – if you are performing a regular activity which is overextending your wrist or causing your carpal tunnel symptoms, lifestyle changes can help prevent your pain.
However, other alternate methods may also be available for certain patients. To learn more about our specific treatment options, give Integrated Health Solutions a call today, or reach out to us with one of our online contact forms.