Carpal tunnel syndrome originates in your wrist; it’s a form of nerve compression affecting the median nerve. That nerve runs through your forearm and into your hand through a small passageway called the carpal tunnel. It’s the same nerve that perceives sensations in many of your fingers and is responsible for the motor control of the base of your thumb.
Arthritis and various wrist injuries can compress the median nerve and lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, but in many cases, the cause isn’t so obvious. You might slowly develop symptoms if you tend to sleep on your wrist, have a hormone imbalance, or repeatedly use drills and other vibrating tools. You might also have a naturally narrow carpal tunnel, an issue you’d never detect were it not for carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
Our team of experienced orthopedists, surgeons, and physical therapists reviews your symptoms and can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome using various tests and a physical exam. Some of the most common carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are:
Along with the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome, you might notice that you are dropping things more frequently than normal or that your handwriting is getting sloppier. At North Point Orthopaedics in Munster, Crown Point, and Valparaiso, Indiana, we can help you navigate the complexities of carpal tunnel syndrome recovery using the latest conservative treatments.
Home care is fundamental to the success of your carpal tunnel treatments, and you can start today using these easy, pain-relieving strategies:
Just like many occupations, housework is often long and tedious and involves repetitive movements. Simply stopping for a few minutes to stretch and wiggle your fingers can lighten the pressure on your median nerve and make your carpal tunnel pain more bearable.
The next time you’re gardening, scrubbing the bathtub, or washing dishes, be sure to give your wrists a rest every so often. This applies to some hobbies, too: As much as you’d like to complete the next chapter of your book or learn a new song on guitar in one sitting, your wrists will thank you for the occasional break.
Keeping your wrists straight keeps as much pressure off your median nerve as possible, which is especially important at night, when you don’t have much control over your wrists’ positions. Splinting immobilizes your wrists and is usually a first line of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Many wrist splints are available without a prescription, either online or at your local drugstore. They help you avoid bending your wrist during the night or compressing the joint by laying on it.
Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can make a major difference in how much carpal tunnel pain you feel at home. They work by reducing inflammation around the nerve, creating more space for your median nerve so it’s not compressed.
Carpal tunnel syndrome often involves a lot of swelling. You can reduce inflammation in your painful wrist by soaking it in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes every hour or so.
Intermittent cold temperatures may bring down inflammation in your wrist, but warmth is also good for carpal tunnel syndrome. Most of the time, you should keep your wrists warm to alleviate stiffness and some of the pain. Keep some hand warmers or fingerless gloves on hand to warm your wrists without compromising their functionality.
Without professional treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome has a tendency to get worse and can even lead to permanent nerve damage and dysfunction. Call your nearest North Point Orthopaedics office or schedule an appointment online for professional carpal tunnel care today.