Health | How Do I Know if I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

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Do you experience pain, numbness, or shocks in your hand, wrist, or forearm? Those are all symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). When identifying this syndrome, it helps to know what to look for in order to seek the proper care. Early treatment can make all the difference in recovery time!

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repeated pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, passing through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow pathway made up of bone and ligament. The median nerve provides feeling to the palm side of the thumb, index, middle, and half of the ring finger, but not the pinkie. It also has control over some of the small muscles at the base of the thumb.

Irritated tendons, swelling, or compression can cause the median nerve to become inflamed. The result could be numbness, weakness, pain in the wrist, hands, or forearm.

What Are the Early Signs?

Most people experience numbness, tingling, pain, or burning in any of the fingers, except the pinkie. The dominant hand is usually affected first and typically has the most pain. This feeling can also extend up the forearm. Oftentimes, these symptoms flare up at night due to the fact that most people sleep with their wrists bent, adding pressure on the median nerve.

As time goes on, symptoms will be felt during the day. Symptoms flare up when the wrist is in a fixed position for an extended period of time during activities like typing, driving, reading, or holding your phone. In the beginning, symptoms tend to come and go, but over time they often worsen.

Other symptoms associated with CTS are the feeling of swollen fingers, pain and tingling sensations felt up the arm extending into the shoulder, and “shocks” felt in the thumb and fingers. As time goes on, CTS can also disrupt your ability to pinch or make a fist. This can cause weakened muscles, resulting in dropping things more often, and having a hard time working with small objects, like buttoning your shirt.

When Should I Seek Help?

As soon as you notice symptoms of CTS, you should check with your doctor. If you catch these early on, you may be able to prevent damage through basic treatments. Early treatment can help you avoid more serious treatment, such as surgery. If you avoid treatment altogether, your symptoms could become permanent.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated Naturally?

When treating CTS, time is of the essence to prevent further damage. Doctors may recommend a variety of treatments from splinting, avoiding repetitive motions that provoke symptoms or reducing the amount of time spent on tasks that cause discomfort. If the wrist is inflamed, warm, or swollen, ice packs may be recommended. Alternative therapies such as yoga may be recommended for pain relief, strength building, and to help open up the carpal tunnel and reduce inflammation in the area. In serious cases, some doctors may recommend surgery. Unfortunately, the solutions presented aren’t a magic fix-all for carpal tunnel as symptoms usually resurface when the individual returns to work or the hobby that exacerbated the problem to begin with.

Massage therapy is a highly effective method for treating CTS. The majority of patients who use massage therapy for their symptoms have success, and are often able to rid themselves of the condition altogether. Massage therapy assists in breaking down scar tissue and adhesions in the muscles of the wrist and forearm. By alleviating the affected muscles, you are able to restore flexibility to the wrist, allowing it to move freely as it is supposed to.

Massaging and stretching the ligaments of the wrist relieves pressure on the median nerve that is causing all the pain, tingling, and numbness. With continued treatment, CTS symptoms can improve dramatically and continue to improve overtime. Specific stretches for hands and forearms can help to relieve CTS symptoms and help keep them at bay.

How can I prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Regular massage greatly assists in alleviating symptoms of CTS. If you’re at the workplace, you can perform a series of stretches and exercises, take frequent breaks, and ensure your posture and wrist positioning is correct. At workstations, you can adjust tools and tool handles to keep the wrist in a natural position during work. Assembly line positions can be rotated to prevent fixed positions for extended periods of time. Employers can put ergonomic regulations in place, helping ease workplace conditions and job demands from workers. When in doubt, call Pure Knead Massage!

Stay tuned next week for a video on how to stretch your hands to alleviate and prevent pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome!

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