You notice numbness and tingling in your hand and wrist after working at your desk for several hours. The pain eases up when you go home, but for several hours, it's hard to grasp or hold onto anything with that hand. These are signs of carpal tunnel syndrome and, if not treated, could lead to serious and permanent nerve damage. Here is what you need to know about what's happening to your wrist and how to get some relief.
Anatomy of Your Wrist
A long nerve, called the median nerve, runs down your forearm from your elbow to the wrist and into the palm of your hand. The nerve travels through a narrow channel created by the bones in your wrist. This carpal tunnel protects the nerve as it passes through the complex arrangement of the wrist bones.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Pain
If this channel becomes narrower because of degeneration of the bones in the wrist, the median nerve can rub on the bones and become irritated and inflamed. This can be due to arthritis or osteoporosis. The nerve may also be repeatedly irritated by the position of your hand on the desk, such as when typing with your wrist sitting on the edge of the desk. Regardless of the cause, this painful irritation of the nerve is what creates the numbness and lack of strength in your hand.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Pain
There are a number of precautions you can take to reduce the chance of carpal tunnel pain such as:
- Periodically take breaks and move your wrists in large circles, first one way then the other, to keep muscles flexible and increase circulation in the wrists.
- Move your keyboard and work surface so your hands are positioned above the surface and not resting on it.
- If your hands are cold, warm them up before doing any typing or detailed work with them.
- Use over the counter wrist supports to protect the wrist and median nerves from being irritated by a work surface.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Orthopedic surgeons will first try non-invasive treatments to reduce the inflammation and pain in your wrists such as:
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling of the median nerve.
- Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in the wrists to better support the nerve.
- Steroid injections in the wrist to relieve the inflammation.
- Braces to hold the wrists in a position that relieves the pressure on the median nerve.
If these don't provide enough relief, your orthopedist may recommend one of these surgical procedures:
- Enlargement of the narrow carpal tunnel.
- Reconstruction of the bone surfaces to reduce irritation on the nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can takes weeks from which to recover. Preventing this condition by using some of the precautions at work will keep you from facing a long, painful healing process.
To learn more, contact a clinic like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates.Share