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How To Deal With And Alleviate Carpal Tunnel Pain

By Tyler Woodward

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which causes nerve pain in the hands and wrist and is believed to affect between 3-6% of adults in the United States. While not a life-threatening condition, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause severe pain and discomfort for those afflicted with it. Let’s dive into carpal tunnel syndrome.

Contents:

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

What Is Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the nerve that runs through the hand(s) is entrapped or pinched by the surrounding tissues. This nerve is known as the median nerve and runs from the neck into the fingertips. This nerve passes through the hand via the carpal tunnel, a cavity between the wrist and hand which both the tendons of the finger muscles and the median nerve run through. If any of these tendons swell for whatever reason the carpal tunnel cavity will become tighter as the swollen tendon takes up more space. 

If this happens it can exert a pressure on the median nerve, restricting the nerve’s ability to move with the wrist and elbow. This can result in nerve pain known as carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s also worth noting that carpal tunnel is not always a ‘local’ issue to the median nerve in the wrist. Being that the median nerve runs from the neck through the hand if it’s being pinched anywhere along the way it can result in carpal tunnel syndrome. For the sake of this article we’ll focus on carpal tunnel solely within the wrist, but beware that it may be a more proximal nerve issue rooting closer to the spine.

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Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: 

Carpal Tunnel Syndromes

The pinched nerve involved in carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with a number of symptoms including:

  • Numbness of the hand (fingers “fall asleep”)
  • A tingling or burning sensation of the palm and fingers
  • Weakness holding objects
  • Tingling throughout the arm
  • Worsened coordination and reaction time in the affected hand

Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Carpal tunnel syndrome commonly afflicts people with very repetitive jobs that spend the majority of their day performing the same task over and over again. This includes office workers that sit at their desk and type all day or factory workers that use their hands on the assembly line. There is also some speculation that carpal tunnel syndrome is hereditary, resulting from a small carpal tunnel diameter. Regardless of what causes the carpal tunnel syndrome to occur, it’s pretty unanimously agreed upon that it is a postural disorder and can be remedied by opening up additional space for the median nerve to rest in. 

Who’s At Risk Of Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

While science can never tell us who will develop any disease or condition, we do know from statistical evidence that certain groups of people and occupations are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. This includes:

  • Anatomical Factors - Previous injuries like a damaged or dislocated wrist can increase the likelihood of developing carpal tunnel
  • Nerve Damaging Conditions - Like diabetes
  • Inflammatory Conditions - Like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Repetitive Workplace Environment - This is unproven in the scientific literature, but seems to be a commonality among those that are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism

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How To Fix Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?:

How To Fix Carpal Tunnel

There are a number of approaches that are used to help deal with or potentially even fix carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Wearing A Brace - A brace or splint works by immobilizing the wrist joint into a neutral position helping to prevent the median nerve from being pinched. These can be used during any activity that causes the pain or at night while sleeping.
  • Medication - Anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed in order to deal with the discomfort of carpal tunnel.
  • Exercise - There are a number of different types of exercises that can be used to strengthen the muscles of the wrist which may help to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome. Primarily you should focus on a wrist extensor and wrist flexor exercises which can be done with a free weight doing wrist curls in both directions. You may also look to perform nerve flossing which aims to directly increase the space around the nerve to decrease pain. 
  • Surgery - In extreme cases surgery may be necessary in order to clear up more space in the carpal tunnel to allow the nerve to move freely.

*Disclaimer - This is not medical advice*

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