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ADVICE FROM DR. ARTHRITIS: DON’T IGNORE CTS SYMPTOMS
These days carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is so prevalent that most people tend to shrug off its symptoms.
Technology plays a big part in this. On any given day, you’re probably hunched behind a computer at work, typing. During breaks, you’re probably on your phone texting. And when you get home, your first instinct is to open your laptop to surf online, or chat with friends. By the time you go to sleep, you probably have tablet or your smartphone in your hand to play a game or browse through social media.
All this requires repetitive movement in our hands putting pressure on our carpal tunnel—a section of our wrist bound by bone and ligament. And with frequent strain, the tendons get irritated and start to swell, which may pinch the nerve and causes a host of symptoms.
It typically starts with numbness—a slight tingling sensation that runs from your thumb to the rest of your fingers. Others report a feeling of discomfort crawling from the wrist towards their shoulders. Often, these symptoms manifest itself in the middle of the night, causing sufferers to wake up and literally try to shake it off.
Because these symptoms are hardly disruptive, most are all too quick to ignore it altogether. But doing so could eventually weaken your hand, and lower your dexterity, making even the most mundane tasks that we take for granted—such as opening bottle caps or turning a doorknob—difficult. In worse cases, it could lead to nerve damage in your hands. And considering that 25 percent of pressure-sensitive nerve endings are in your fingertips, this could ultimately prove to be more debilitating that you can imagine.
So once you feel the symptoms of CTS begin, your first step should definitely be to go see your doctor. You don’t want to prolong this as doing so could lead to bigger, more invasive interventions like surgery.
Before it gets to that point however, it’s likely that your doctor will talk to you about easy home remedies that you can do everyday to relieve pressure on the median nerve:
- Take frequent breaks from repetitive tasks involving your hands, fingers and wrist. That includes typing, playing games on your computer or tablet, even texting. Give your hands a rest.
- If you feel discomfort due to incessant tingling or numbness, even pain, try icing your wrist for 10 to 15 minutes every hour. This may help reduce inflammation.
- Consult your doctor about taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage the pain.
- Wear a wrist splint so that your wrist maintains a consistent, neutral position while doing repetitive tasks and alleviate pressure on the median nerve.
- Try wearing compression gloves to help support the affected area and provide graduated, consistent pressure that aids in blood circulation.
Once the pain is gone, try doing gentle exercises that help increase flexibility and strength in your arm and wrist. Dr. Arthritis, a trusted brand known for their line of compression sleeves anchored on the founders’ experience and insight as medical practitioners. The brand’s collection are made using a high quality blend of 88 percent copper nylon with 12 percent spandex—making it one of the products with the highest copper content available, and ensuring all-day comfort—and comes with a booklet containing exercises and guidelines, which you can use as a reference.
Dr. Arthritis’ main mission is to improve the lives of people who suffer from joint and muscle pain—regardless if it’s because they suffer from conditions like arthritis or are recovering from an injury.