Identifying Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

With so many Americans typing and working at computers all day, knowing the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome is more important than ever. Carpal tunnel syndrome can start slowly by affecting just one hand or just individual fingers. Over time, the sensation can grow into tingling and numbness in the hands and arms. In mild cases of carpal tunnel, people can use some home remedies to find pain relief. If carpal tunnel progresses, surgery may be the right option.

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1. Schedule breaks

The development of carpal tunnel thrives on repetition. A repetitive movement like playing guitar, typing, or using a hand drill can all make symptoms worse. Try to take breaks at least once an hour. Some people also tend to grip tools tightly or use a lot of force when performing these tasks. Try to relax the grip or tap keys more lightly.

2. Stretch it out

During the hourly break during the workday, perform a few quick wrist and hand exercises to relieve carpal tunnel pain. For example, make a tight fist, hold for a few seconds, and then release and spread the fingers. Repeat 5-10 times.

3. Use topical treatments

Some studies have shown that topical treatment can help relieve carpal tunnel pain. Some options might include topical menthol, CBD oil, or arnica gel. Make sure to follow the packaging instructions and always ask a doctor about how much to use.

4. Hot and cold therapy

Using ice and heat is one of the best ways to decrease pain. The heat will help to relax muscles, while ice will reduce inflammation. Try soaking the affected wrist in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes once every hour. For hot therapy, soak the area in warm water up to 3-4 times a day.

Alternative therapies

Some other treatments can offer short-term relief for carpal tunnel pain. Yoga, ultrasound therapy, or hand therapy may all be options to relieve symptoms. Additionally, people may benefit from corticosteroid medications to decrease inflammation, either orally or through a wrist injection. Typically, a healthcare provider will recommend trying all these noninvasive options before moving forward with surgery.

When to consider surgery

Surgery may be an option if the pain is severe and other therapies have not worked. And for people with severe carpal tunnel syndrome, surgery has excellent outcome rates. Studies have shown that people who undergo surgery see more improvement within 6-12 months than those who do not. For more information about carpal tunnel syndrome, speak with a healthcare provider.

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