For individuals experiencing pain, numbness, and shooting pain in their hands or arms, may have carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a common condition that affects around 3% to 6% of adults in the United States alone.
Luckily, options to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are gradually expanding, with many methods being available to do at home.
A doctor may sometimes suggest using more “aggressive” treatment methods, like steroid injections and carpal tunnel surgery. If you’re like many patients, you may also try out more non-invasive and conservative treatments.
Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome may cause a general feeling of tingling and numbness of your hands, arms, and fingers over time. They usually persist for several months and worsen over time. Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur when a nerve in your wrist gets pinched. This condition results from typical everyday activities, including frequent use of vibrating hand tools or performing general manual labor.
This medical condition usually begins slowly and gradually worsens, making it painful day by day — and it might affect one or both of your hands.
Your doctor may ask you questions and conduct one or more of the following tests to determine whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome:
- History of symptoms. Symptoms usually occur while holding a phone, a newspaper, gripping a steering wheel, or when you’re just sleeping late at night. It will keep you awake.
- Your doctor will look and review your symptoms. This will help him determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. It will usually occur when the median nerve is compressed.
- Physical examination. Your doctor will conduct an examination to test the muscles in your hand. Bending, tapping, or pressure on the nerve may trigger symptoms in some people. Triggers may differ in other people.
- X-ray. Doctors may recommend an X-ray on the affected area to help determine whether the affected part doesn’t have carpal tunnel syndrome but may be affected by arthritis or a fracture. It does not help diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Electromyography. Your doctor inserts a thin needle electrode into specific muscles to evaluate the electrical activity when muscles contract and rest. This test can determine the damage in the muscle on the patient’s hand. It will help the doctor give a diagnosis and treatment to the patient.
- Nerve conduction study. Two electrodes are taped to your skin. A small shock is passed through the median nerve to see if electrical impulses are slowed in the carpal tunnel. This test may be used to diagnose your condition or any other condition that is underlying.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes and Symptoms
Carpal tunnel syndrome may be caused when the space within your wrists, also known as the carpal tunnel, narrows down. This excess pressure on your median nerve and surrounding tendons in the carpal tunnel, making them swell — cutting the sensation in the fingers and hand. The narrowing of one’s carpal tunnel can result from anything, from staying in a single position for an extended period to accidents.
Meanwhile, it may usually start slowly when it comes to symptoms and can happen at any time. However, the symptoms may typically emerge during the night since most people sleep with their wrists curled.
Regardless of the time, here are the most common daytime and nighttime symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Severe numbness of the fingers and hand at night
- Wrist pain or tingling or numbness in the fingers and thumb
- Numb fingertips
- Dropping objects often
- Difficulty in handling small items or grasping a steering wheel
- Weakness in the hands
- Inability to do tasks requiring delicate motions, like buttoning up a shirt
Different Treatment Options For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to creep on a person slowly and worsen over time. This condition can be debilitating to one’s health. However, if you treat it early on, you can slow the progress or stop it on its track. Plus, early treatment can make for a shorter recovery period.
Here are the different options that can help:
To help relieve pressure from your wrists and ease the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms you’re experiencing, apply ice on your wrist or soak it in an ice bath for 10 to 15 minutes every hour until the pain subsides.
Wearing wrist braces is usually the best choice when you’re experiencing mild to moderately painful carpal tunnel syndrome. Although they don’t work for everyone, these devices are relatively safe and have no side effects, so it wouldn’t hurt to try one.
When wearing wrist braces to ease your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, please give them a good 3 to 4 weeks to improve.
Your attending physician will likely suggest wearing a wrist brace when you go to bed since that’s when most people bend their wrists, making the symptoms worse.
Adjust Your Activities
Carpal tunnel syndrome usually gets triggered whenever you hold your hand and wrist in the same position for an extended period and can usually worsen if you have to keep them bent. That’s why when you’re required to activities like these for work or other purposes, here’s how you can make it easier:
- Give your hands and wrists frequent breaks for at least 10 to 15 minutes every hour.
- Stretch your hands often.
- Adjust your workplace setting.
- Alternate your hands for different tasks.
- Minimize the force you use.
- Avoid holding onto your tools too tightly.
- Always watch your posture and keep your shoulders straight.
Chiropractic doctors or physical therapists can help with carpal tunnel syndrome in several ways. They might give you exercises to stretch and strengthen your hand and wrist muscles, showing how to change your routine motions in ways that place less stress on your hands and wrists. This method can be most beneficial when it comes to doing tasks related to work.
This treatment option uses sound waves to increase the temperatures in your affected hand and wrist as the heat can relieve the pain, speeding up the healing process.
Acupuncture and Yoga
Although there isn’t any solid evidence that these two practices can help with carpal tunnel syndrome, several studies have found them helpful. These two are shown to ease pain and improve grip strength.
Steroids, specifically corticosteroids, like cortisone, are potent drugs that can help reduce inflammation. You may sometimes take these medications. Also, see your doctor give you a “shot” directly in the affected area. Overall, steroids can give you temporary relief from the pain and swelling.
If non-invasive treatment methods haven’t improved your carpal tunnel syndrome in six months, most medical experts suggest getting carpal tunnel release surgery. You have two options, the first one being open surgery and the second one being endoscopic surgery.
In an open surgical procedure, the surgeon will make an opening from your wrist to your palm. Meanwhile, for endoscopic surgery, they’ll make two incisions. In both surgeries, the surgeon will cut the ligament atop your carpal tunnel to relieve it from pressure. When getting carpal tunnel surgery, carpal tunnel syndrome usually doesn’t come back.
A chiropractic doctor may help determine if there are issues on your upper or cervical spine since they’re the primary cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. If so, these professionals will provide immediate pain relief through spinal manipulation and other forms of chiropractic care, relieving pressure on the median nerve — and treating its underlying risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. This treatment method ensures better health over time.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment can speed up your recovery and improve your overall healing process, alleviating pressure in your cervical spine to relieve pain and general discomfort. If you’re experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome and are looking for natural and immediate relief, contact Dr. Herring of Herring Chiropractic Clinic in Tallahassee, AL for examination and fast recovery. She and her team have the training and expertise to relieve your symptoms, design personalized programs to help you improve your symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.