We use our hands almost as much as any part of our body, so it’s no surprise that this usage can cause some serious issues to the joints and muscles in our hands. Plaguing over 7 million people each year, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) can be very painful and limit motor function in the hands. Luckily. Research has shown that there are a variety of different exercises and remedies you can try right at home.
What is Carpal Tunnel?
While many assume that Carpal Tunnel is just arthritis in the hands, it’s actually much different. The carpal tunnel is found on the palm side of the wrist. It is a narrow passageway that runs from the wrist to the hand. It is made up of bones, ligaments, and tendons. Certain kinds of work can cause the nerve that runs through the tunnel to become compressed or even damaged.
This nerve provides feeling to the majority of the hand, so one of the earliest signs of Carpal Tunnel can be numbness or tingling in the hands. While it’s not clear exactly what causes Carpal Tunnel, there are a variety of factors that increase the risk including:
- Jobs or professions requiring meticulous use of hands
- Conditions such as diabetes and/or thyroid disease
- Previous wrist injuries
- Family history of CTS
- Females in the menopause stage
- Those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia
Home Remedies For CTS
There are a variety of different ways that you can treat Carpal Tunnel without having to get surgery or rely on medication. A combination of these home remedies can ease the pain and numbness and allow you to enjoy a comfortable life. However, if these remedies do not work, it might be time to visit a doctor to look at medicinal or surgical options.
- Avoid movements that cause pain, and stop if pain persists
- Avoid sleeping with hands bent in an uncomfortable position
- Relax grip when writing or performing tedious tasks
- Use larger joints in the arms when lifting heavy objects to reduce stress on the wrists
- Avoid holding wrists or objects in the same position for long periods of time
- If pain persists, rest the affected hand for up to two weeks
- Wear a splint or brace to ease the tension on the carpal tunnel nerves
- Massage wrists and hands to reduce tension
- Wear work gloves during hard labor
- Use ice and heat when necessary to reduce inflammation and swelling
Using PT to Treat CTS
Physical therapists can actually do a lot to relieve the pain and discomfort of CTS. Physical therapists can walk patients through various exercises to help alleviate the pain and pressure. Deep, pulsed ultrasounds can also help decrease the pain and numbness of CTS. Make sure to stress the importance of stretching and performing wrist exercises at home, and recommend that they avoid lifting heavy objects with their wrists or performing tedious tasks that require their wrists to remain in the same position for long periods of time. Splints should also be fitted for your patient so they can keep the wrist immobilized as much as they can.
Surgical and Medicinal CTS Treatments
Unfortunately, home remedies might not always work. Luckily, surgery and/or medication are a viable alternative that can help reduce the pain and discomfort that comes with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
There are two different surgeries that can be performed that will help reduce the pain and discomfort from Carpal Tunnel. The surgery involves cutting the ligament that presses on the median nerve to reduce the pain and pressure.
The main difference between the two surgeries is how the surgeon reaches the desired area. For open surgery, they will make an incision in the palm area so they can reach the ligament that needs to be cut. For endoscopic surgery, a smaller scope-like device is inserted into the palm and used to the cut the ligament. Either way, both of these options will greatly decrease the pain and discomfort for the patient.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in many cases can be treated without needing surgery. Injections and other medications can sometimes decrease the swelling of the ligament and reduce pain and discomfort. Oral corticosteroids can help reduce the swelling and well as cortisone injections. Make sure to consult with a doctor to figure out the best form of treatment.