How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often a “desk job” injury but developing this condition is not confined to people working in a single industry or job. Women have a significantly higher risk than men, but all adults are susceptible. To understand this condition better, let’s start with understanding the wrist.
The carpal tunnel is passageway on the palm side of the wrist that connects the forearm to the middle palm. The carpal tunnel houses the median nerve and tendons, and is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This causes numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand. CTS is considered to be an inflammatory disorder caused by repetitive stress, a medical condition or physical injury.
How Is CTS Diagnosed and Treated?
As with any medical condition, early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid permanent damage to the median nerve. Before going on with more detailed examinations, a physical examination is required in order to determine whether your problems are related to daily activities or to an underlying disorder. Your wrist will be examined for warmth, discoloration, tenderness and swelling. Specific tests carried out for diagnosing CTS include:
- the Tinel test
- the Phalen (wrist-flexion) test
- electrodiagnostic tests: nerve conduction study, electromyography, ultrasound imaging, MRI
Treatment should begin as early as possible after CTS is diagnosed, but underlying causes such as diabetes and arthritis should be treated first. Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome can be both non-surgical and surgical. Non-surgical treatments include:
- alternative therapies: chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga
- drugs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, orally administered diuretics, corticosteroids, vitamin B6
- exercise: stretching and strengthening exercises
Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most commonly performed in the US and is generally recommended if symptoms last for 6 months. During surgery, the physician severs the band of tissue around the wrist to reduce pressure on the median nerve. The procedure is done under local anesthesia and does not require an overnight stay at the hospital.
The traditional procedure used to correct CTS is called open release surgery, which consists of making an incision up to 2 inches in the wrist and cutting the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. However, endoscopic surgery allows faster functional recovery and less postoperative discomfort.
As a leading surgical hospital, Marina Del Rey Hospital is committed to enhancing the lives of all patients by providing quality care. A team of nationally-recognized physicians and support staff is always ready to treat even the most challenging medical conditions and help patients regain their health.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain does not always require surgical intervention. In fact, surgery should be the last resort. Before you consider any non-surgical treatments for shoulder pain, it is best to understand the causes of your pain and what potential treatments are available to you.
What Causes Shoulder Pain?
Shoulder problems are often caused by the breakdown of soft tissues in the region. As people get older, overusing the shoulder can cause soft tissue to break down faster. Also, playing sports and manual labor contribute to a large number of shoulder problems. Pain can be felt in one small spot, in a larger area or up and down the entire arm. However, pain that travels along nerves to the shoulder might not be caused by a breakdown of tissue. This type of pain can be caused by:
- heart disease
- liver disease
- gallbladder disease
- cervical spine disease
If you experience nerve pain, make an appointment right away with your doctor so he or she can properly diagnose the cause.
Typical Non-Surgical Shoulder Pain Treatment
One option to treat shoulder pain is to use ice to reduce inflammation, by compressing the ice on the affected area at 20-minute intervals.. You can also reduce inflammation by keeping your shoulder elevated above the heart, and, once inflammation has been reduced, you can promote blood flow to the area by using heat. Medications are often prescribed to help patients live their life with little to no pain at all. Common medications are:
- aspirin-free pain relievers
- anti-inflammatory drugs
- disease modifiers
- sleep medications
Other Types of Treatment
Exercise helps us in all aspects of our life and, done regularly, it can help by lessening shoulder pain, increasing movement, improving strength and flexibility, and reducing fatigue. Physical therapy can help you ease your shoulder pain – seek a physical therapist to work with you to create a personalized exercise program that best fits you. Other treatment options include:
- hyaluronic acid injections
- anesthetics with a corticosteroid medicine injections
- occupational therapy
- heat/cold therapies
- nontraditional and alternative treatments