Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Treatment & Remedies

Carpal tunnel syndrome has received much media attention in recent years. Still, there appears to be some confusion about the definition of the ailment and how it is diagnosed.

The greater one's understanding of carpal tunnel syndrome, the more likely it is that one can receive appropriate treatment.

Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve, which stretches from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.

This is significant because the median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some of the muscles in the hand that permit the fingers and thumb to move.

The median nerve rests inside a tunnel in the hand whose floor and walls are made up of bones know as carpal bones. The roof of the tunnel is a structure known as the transverse carpal ligament.

In addition to the nerve, there are nine tendons which move the fingers and thumb that pass through the tunnel. When the lining around the tendons becomes inflamed, there is less space for the nerve and it becomes compressed. The compression of the nerve gives rise to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness and tingling in the hand, often occurring at night. Those afflicted also frequently complain of pain and weakness in the hand, especially the thumb.

If the condition is untreated, it can lead to atrophy of the muscles in the base of the thumb.

A few years ago, you might not have heard about carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, the phrase is commonly heard around office coolers, as secretaries, receptionists, and other office workers complain of its symptoms.

But what are the real causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to be associated with certain tasks involving the hands. These include repetitive hand motions, awkward hand positions, strong gripping, mechanical stress on the palm, and vibration.

There are a number of occupations and job tasks which have been linked with carpal tunnel syndrome. For instance, a tailor or garment worker might develop the syndrome from grasping and tugging fabric or pulling cloth.

A farmer could develop it milking cows, or an assembly line worker might experience it handling objects on a conveyor belt.

Mechanics have been known to develop it pushing down a ratchet or using a screw driver, while gardeners can experience it from hand weeding.

A common aspect that turns a typical activity into one that can develop into carpal tunnel syndrome is the lack of frequent, short, rests. It is the constant stress over an extended length of time that creates the inflammation that leads to the syndrome.

Here are those highly recommended carpal tunnel syndrome treatments by orthopedic doctors:

* Physical therapy techniques include ultrasound, hydrotherapy and stretching. Ultrasound uses high- pitched sound waves to create heat that helps decrease pain in the soft tissues. Hydrotherapy involves immersing the wrist in both hot and cold water for three minutes to increase circulation to the wrist. Stretching the hands before work will help prepare for repetitive movements.

* In mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, rest and wearing a splint at night may be enough to relieve symptoms. Splints keep the wrist from bending and prevent pressure on the median nerve. These are designed for different purposes such as for particular jobs or for wearing at night. It is most effective if they are used as soon as symptoms are noticed.

* Retraining is learning new ways of doing things. Ergonomic considerations is having your body in the correct posture and position and using equipment that is right for your strength and ability. Both retraining and ergonomic considerations may not only relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome but also may prevent them from coming back.

There are also complementary and alternative carpal tunnel syndrome treatments that are sometimes used to nurse tingling, numbness, weakness and pain of the fingers and hands. They are as follows:

* Acapuncture has been suggested as a useful carpal tunnel treatment. It is commonly used, the U.S. National Institutes of Health is currently studying the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating such disorder.

* Yoga can be beneficial in relieving pain and improving grip strength in the hand. One study showed that yoga was more effective than wrist splinting.

* Chiropractic involves realignment of joints and bones by twisting, pulling or pushing movements in the wrist and in the forearm, upper arm, shoulder, upper back and neck.

* Vitamin B6 can also be of big help in carpal tunnel treatments. However, small studies have revealed mixed results. High doses of it can cause neuropathy so consult first your doctor before taking those supplements.

When following these treatments to control Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, be sure to adhere strictly to the guidelines prescribed by your doctor for each one.

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