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Handling Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects thousands of people every year, but some people don’t even realize they’re dealing with it. Others may find that the pain, tingling, and numbness in their hand leads them to the doctor, and it’s only then that they determine that they have carpal tunnel. Most people think carpal tunnel comes from doing a lot of computer work, but there are actually a number of different issues that can cause this problem.

What is It?

Carpal Tunnel is a tingling, numberless, weakness, or pain in the hand or wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, a nerve that runs down the entire arm to the hand, has pressure put upon it. This nerve is what controls the feelings from the thumb and all of the fingers with the exception of the pinky finger. When pressure is put on the carpal tunnel, a small area in the wrist that the nerve travels through, it swells up. This pinches the nerve, which can then lead to a loss of feeling, control, or pain.

What Causes It?

What causes a person’s carpal tunnel isn’t always easy to identify, but it generally comes from making repetitive motions on a very regular basis. While typing is one of the most obvious, there are others, such as doing detailed but repetitive work, playing some specific sports, and even doing things like drawing. There are also some conditions that can lead to carpal tunnel, including diabetes, obesity, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnant women may also experience some carpal tunnel during their pregnancy.

The Symptoms

The main symptom of carpal tunnel is a tingling, numbness, itching, or burning sensation in the hand, usually in the palm, thumb, or middle fingers. Usually, the first sign of carpal tunnel is that your hand or fingers start to have that asleep feeling—you lose sensation for a short period of time. This often occurs during the night because the hand is relaxed, so you wake up with a numbness in the morning.

However, while this may seem like a harmless issue, more severe carpal tunnel can be much worse. You may lose some strength in your hands, especially when trying to grip things, because the muscles actually begin to shrink. You may also experience some cramping and pain. In time, you may permanently lose feeling in your fingers, find that you feel things more slowly due to poor nerve impulse, and lose coordination.

Treatment

The most common treatment for carpal tunnel is to change your lifestyle. If your carpal tunnel is due to making many different repetitive motions, taking more frequent breaks or doing the task differently will help relieve the pressure on the nerve. There are also a number of different stretches you can do that will help relieve the pressure or strengthen the muscles in your hands and wrists, which will also help. Wearing a wrist brace and taking some anti-inflammatory drugs may also help. In very serious cases, your doctor may actually suggest surgery, but this is usually a last resort.

Normally, making a few small changes in how you do things is all it takes to be carpal tunnel-free.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.