Repetitive motions over time, like typing, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. About 3 percent of women and 2 percent of men are diagnosed annually with carpal tunnel. Some of the occupations that are prone to carpal tunnel include assembly line workers, seamstresses and hairstylists. Research also indicates that many instances of carpal tunnel syndrome are congenital.
So how do you treat this syndrome? Here are a few techniques that can help you manage your pain and get back to work.
The first step prior to treatment is diagnosing whether one has the syndrome or not, and this can be achieved by visiting your primary care doctor. After a positive diagnosis, your provider will likely recommend you try several forms of treatment. Interventions for this specific syndrome could include medication, home treatments or surgery.
Medications used to treat carpal tunnel include cortisone-type drugs, like Prednisone or Triamcinolone; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Naproxen; diuretics or water pills; cortisone injections; and lower-dose versions of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen. These medications can help to reduce the pain associated with carpal tunnel and provide temporary relief for those who suffer with numbness.
I used a steroid regimen in the past and was symptom-free for about six months. The use of medication may not be a permanent situation, but can provide a degree of relief. Some studies also show that vitamin B6 can aid in reducing the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel.
Other Treatment Options
If you are someone like me who just does not like constantly popping pills, there are other remedies that may also offer relief. Something that has helped me is the use of carpal tunnel splints. You can also use a splint during the day when you are working – I’m usually typing. Although it may seem cumbersome to have these splints continuously around your wrist, they offer great relief from pain. I notice the days I wear my night splint that I don’t feel numbness as frequently and sometimes not at all.
Exercises throughout the day are a huge benefit to reducing numbness as well. I have a list of carpal tunnel exercises posted behind my computer. Exercising a few times a day is a great way to prevent symptoms.
Surgery is usually suggested as a last resort. Patients who cannot get relief may get a carpal tunnel release procedure to correct the problem. This procedure is performed in an outpatient setting.
There are two methods that are used. The first involves an open procedure where the surgeon cuts the wrist and the second, less-invasive method uses an endoscope with a camera that guides the surgeon to perform the incision. After surgery, patients may experience redness, fever, bleeding or increased pain. Although there are risks to any surgery, this procedure offers relief following the healing process.
Whatever approach you try, be sure to stick with it for a little while. Some treatments take a little longer to work than others. In the end, when you get relief, it will all be worth it.