Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Relief
Reduce Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition affecting the forearm and wrist, resulting from pressure on the wrist's median nerve. It can cause a range of symptoms, including tingling sensations running down the forearm into the wrist and hand, as well as numbness, pain, and restricted range of motion. These symptoms can be severe, or even debilitating.
The condition can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Repetitive strain on the wrists, hand and/or forearm
- Prolonged use of vibrating power tools
- A history of forearm or wrist injuries
Mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can typically be helped by resting the affected arm and wrist. However, more severe cases require more proactive interventions.
Managing Carpel Tunnel Syndrome Pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome usually resolves on its own within a few months, provided you identify and cease the activity which is causing your symptoms. If symptoms persist, there are a number of strategies doctors use to help patients manage their pain:
- Wrist splints. These devices are designed to keep your forearms, wrists and fingers in optimal alignment while you sleep. Essentially, a wrist splint stops your wrist from bending, which decreases pressure on your median wrist nerve and allows the condition time to heal properly. Most patients start to see an improvement in their pain symptoms within two to four weeks of wearing a wrist splint at night.
- Corticosteroids. This class of drug helps reduce inflammation; since nerve and muscle inflammation are the primary causes of carpal tunnel syndrome pain, they may be administered to help calm things down. While corticosteroids may provide you with immediate relief from your symptoms, it is vitally important that you make the necessary alterations to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from flaring up.
- Ice. Using ice on your wrists can help calm down inflammation and painful flare-ups, though it does not offer a lasting solution. If you do want to use ice, wrap the ice in a cloth and apply it to the affected wrist for 10 to 15 minutes, repeating the process once every hour to two hours. Be sure to cease any activities which may have caused the condition to flare up.
Note that there is not much evidence which supports the use of analgesic painkillers. Many people with carpal tunnel syndrome will automatically turn to over the counter medications, but these medications have not been shown to address or relieve symptoms. However, there is some anecdotal evidence which suggests that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may provide relief from carpal tunnel pain.
It is also a common misconception that diuretics may be used to help rid the body of excess fluid, thus helping ease carpal tunnel syndrome. Like the use of painkillers, this strategy is not supported by clinical research. In fact, many researchers believe that diuretics may worsen the problem rather than relieve it, since they can cause dehydration, and dehydration is a noted cause of muscle and nerve tension.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Cases which do not improve with treatment or worsen over time can be treated with a procedure known as "carpal tunnel release surgery." In this procedure, a surgeon will decompress the carpal tunnel by severing the carpal ligament, thus reducing pressure being placed on the median nerve. This procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis. Recovery time varies, but most patients begin to regain limited use of the affected arm and wrist within about a week.
Carpal tunnel release surgery does carry some risks and potential complications, though. These include:
- Post-operative bleeding
- Permanent scarring
- Nerve damage
- Wrist pain
The surgery does have a very high success rate, though, and in the majority of cases, patients experience rapid and permanent relief from pain and associated symptoms.