Updated: Jun 1
Most of us spend hours at a computer every day. While it may not seem like much, over a long period of time, this small amount of time spent at the computer has been shown to take a toll on our bodies. Most commonly, a carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) or wrist pain is a common problem that affects many people who spend several hours at a computer.
The pain can be unbearable if not treated at early stages. If you do not take care of it, it may lead to severe conditions like loss of movement in your fingers or hands. But don't worry, there are many Manhattan pain management options you can take to make the symptoms of this disorder disappear. This article discusses some of the ways you can avoid developing CTS and treat it if you have it.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve in your wrist is compressed or irritated. The carpal tunnel is the narrow space where the median nerve passes through the wrist. It is made up of eight small bones that form a roof over the top of the carpal tunnel. The median nerve provides sensation to your thumb and index finger, as well as parts of your wrist, palm, and forearm. CTS can cause weakness, tingling, and numbness in these areas.
How do you know if you have it?
Symptoms often start slowly and get worse over time. For example, you may feel a tingling sensation or numbness in your fingers that gets worse when you use them for repetitive tasks like typing at work or texting on your phone. Eventually, you might notice weakness in one or more of your fingers as well as pain in the palm of your hand or the base of your thumb.
You may be experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome if:
Your hand feels weak and clumsy when you use it for fine tasks such as buttoning a shirt or turning doorknobs.
You have difficulty holding small objects such as pens or keys because your fingers don't close completely around them.
You wake up in the morning with numbness or tingling in one or more fingers (this symptom is called paresthesia).
You may feel pain at night when you're sleeping, especially if you sleep on your wrists or have an injury to your arm or hand.
Some people who experience CTS can also have hand, arm, neck or shoulder problems. If you think that you're experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it's always best to consult with a pain specialist so they can help accurately diagnose the problem.
How does carpal tunnel syndrome develop?
Carpal tunnel syndrome typically develops gradually, but the pain can come on suddenly. It's important to understand what causes carpal tunnel syndrome so you can help prevent it from happening again if it has already occurred in your life. It usually affects both hands and can lead to permanent disabilities if not treated properly.
CTS can be caused by pressure on your median nerve as it passes through your carpal tunnel. This pressure can occur because of:
Repetitive wrist motions or stress on your hands (for example, typing or playing video games)
Tight muscles in your upper body (for example, those in your neck)
Obesity or overweight
A tumor or cyst pressing against your median nerve within the wrist
You're more likely to develop CTS if you're female, pregnant, or over 40 years old. Certain medical conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can also raise your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
If your symptoms are not significantly improving, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Carpal tunnel syndrome can become a chronic condition, so it's important to take your treatment as seriously as you can. [Read article: 6 Signs You're Suffering from Chronic Pain And The Chronic Pain]
Thankfully, it's highly treatable, and many treatment options can get you back on track and keep you there.
What can you do to treat wrist pain?
If you have mild symptoms that aren't improving after two weeks of home treatment, seek help from a pain specialist who can evaluate your condition and determine the treatment needed. The treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on how bad your symptoms are and how long you've had them.
The best way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is to take proper care of your wrists and help them avoid becoming inflamed. But there are several things you can do to help relieve your pain and improve your comfort level:
Avoid repeated movements with your wrist that cause it to bend for long periods of time (for example, when driving).
Rest the affected hand. It would be best if you avoided the activities that aggravate the condition for several weeks or months.
Use a wrist splint at night if needed. A splint keeps the wrist in a neutral position while you sleep and helps reduce swelling in the carpal tunnel.
Corticosteroid injections may also help relieve pain and swelling in the wrist area. These shots are given as an outpatient procedure in an office or other medical setting by a specially trained health care professional who uses local anesthesia to numb the area during the injection. You should be able to resume normal activities immediately after this procedure. Still, you may need to avoid strenuous activity for a few days afterward while your doctor decides if another injection is necessary.
Why choose physical therapy for your carpal tunnel syndrome?
Physical therapy is an effective treatment option for carpal tunnel syndrome because it uses exercise and other hands-on techniques to improve muscle strength and flexibility. It can also help you learn how to manage your symptoms and prevent them from coming back.
Physical therapists are experts in treating musculoskeletal conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. They use a variety of techniques to help relieve pain and education about proper body mechanics for everyday activities like typing or lifting groceries. They also may recommend splints or braces to protect your wrists while they heal.
Physical therapy can help you manage your carpal tunnel symptoms and prevent future flare-ups. Here's what you need to know about physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome:
Physical therapy helps reduce pain and swelling, which relieves pressure on the median nerve.
It can help you improve your posture, making you less likely to strain your wrists while performing daily tasks.
It may strengthen muscles around the wrist to improve stability and reduce pain.
It may teach you exercises designed to help stretch out tight muscles around the wrist area and improve blood flow through that area.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated
Carpal tunnel syndrome is widely misunderstood. Many believe it's just a minor annoyance that some over-the-counter pain medication can easily cure. In reality, though, it can be a chronic and debilitating condition that steals the joy from your life. For those who suffer from this condition, just getting through each day is a great accomplishment.
If you're experiencing pain or discomfort, it's important to give your hands a rest from time to time – you should never force them into an uncomfortable position if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort. Instead, take a break, or get those symptoms checked out by a Manhattan pain management specialist.