How to treat carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by nerve compression within the tunnel with carpal bones and transverse carpal ligament. It causes numbness, pain, tingling and weakening of the hand due to burden applied on the median nerve in the wrist.
The median nerve and several tendons in the forearm and the hand runs through a tiny space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve functions in controlling the movement and feelings in the thumb and the first three fingers, except the little finger.
Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome
- Repetitive hand movements over and over especially the wrist is bent down and the hands are lower than the wrist, or making the same wrist movement over and over.
- Conditions such as arthritis and hypothyroidism
- Symptoms can be felt at night and becomes relieved by shaking the hand
- Numbness, tingling, weakness and pain felt in the fingers or hand
- Pain in the arm between the hand and elbow
- Pain in the thumb, middle, index finger and half of the ring finger
- Rest the affected area. Take a break at least 5 minutes every hour especially flexing and bending the wrist or fingers repeatedly.
- Avoid wearing tight bracelets and watches. Avoid activities that compress and cause irritation in the median nerve such as lifting heavy objects, repetitively flexing of the wrist, punching solid objects and sleeping with bent wrist.
- Stretch regularly the wrist to lessen or minimize the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Stretch the wrist by performing the “prayer pose” with palms together. Put the palms in front of the chest and raise the elbows and remain in this position for at least 30 seconds until a stretch can be felt in the wrist. Perform this procedure 3-5 times every day.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area to lessen the swelling and the pain. place crushed ice in plastic bag and wrap it in towel or a cloth before placing to the area for at least 15-20 minutes at a time 3-5 times every day. Avoid ice directly on the skin to prevent further irritation and worsen the condition. Another alternative use a bag of frozen vegetable such as peas or corn is also good for the condition.
- Take the prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen to lessen the swelling and the pain.
- Wear a stiff brace or a splint to keep the wrist in a neutral position to lessen pressure placed on the median nerve and lessen the symptoms. Wear wrist splint while sleeping at night to relieve of the numbness and tingling sensation in the hands especially when curling the wrists. Wear the splint for several weeks day and night.
- Take the prescribed oral steroids and corticosteroid injections to lessen the pain and the inflammation.