The Prevention And Treatment Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Some work activities put you at risk of irritating the nerve in your wrists. Persistent irritation can cause severe pain and loss of the use of your hands. With some changes in your routine, you can prevent this from occurring. When it does happen, there are a number of non-invasive treatment options, followed by surgery, when those options don't give you enough relief. Here is what is causing the pain and hand weakness, how to prevent it and the typical options for treatment.

Median Nerve Irritation is the Cause

Activities that require you to do the same motions over and over with your hands put stress on a nerve traveling through the wrists called the median nerve. Resting your wrists on a hard surface, such as when working on a keyboard, also puts pressure on the nerve. Both activities can irritate the nerve enough for it to become inflamed and painful. When the swelling persists, you'll develop numbness and tingling in your wrists and hands. Your hands will get weaker and you'll lose the ability to grip and hold onto anything. With severe carpal tunnel syndrome, you lose all sensation in your hands and the ability to use them to work and do daily activities.

Preventing the Nerve Irritation

If your job requires repetitive motions with your hands, a few ways to prevent the nerve irritation include:

  • warm up your hands before using them on a cool day
  • keep your hands warm throughout the work day
  • rest your hands for a few minutes every hour
  • stretch your hands several times each hour by flexing them at the wrists and rotating them in both directions
  • wear a wrist support to hold your wrists at a neutral angle, if it doesn't impact your job

You can do the same preventative activities if you work on a keyboard all day. In addition to those actions:

  • move the keyboard so you can type on it without resting your wrists on the desk
  • if you must rest your wrists on the desk, use a foam or gel wrist rest under your hands

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

When the preventative actions aren't enough, treatment from a neurological services and treatment center will focus on reducing the median nerve inflammation. Your doctor, such as at Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D., will initially try non-invasive approaches to relieve the pressure on the nerve while it naturally heals from the irritation. These treatments include:

  • anti-inflammatory pain medications to reduce the swelling
  • physical therapy to slowly relax tense tissues in the wrists
  • injections of steroids directly into the wrists to reduce inflammation
  • wrist supports to hold your wrists in a neutral position and take the pressure off of the nerve

When surgery becomes the only option for gaining relief, some of the techniques used include:

  • enlarging the structures in the wrists through which the median nerve travels
  • reconstruction of the bones in the wrists to free up the median nerve

Following surgery, you will likely need to wear wrists supports while your wrists heal.