If you have experienced numbness, tingling or weakness in your first 3 fingers (thumb, index and middle fingers) you may want to listen up and learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is it?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by pressure on the median nerve, which travels through the wrist and supplies sensation and movement to certain parts of your hand. It is most common among people ages 30-60 and more so in women than men.
- Typing on a keyboard
- Assembly line work
- Use of tools (especially hand tools or tools that vibrate)
- Sports such as racquetball or handball
- Playing some musical instruments
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in the thumb and the index and middle fingers in one or both hands
- Numbness or tingling of the palm of the hand
- Pain extending to the elbow
- Pain in the wrist or hand in one or both hands
- Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands
- Wasting away of the muscle under the thumb (in advanced cases)
- Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags
- Weakness in one or both hands
Your healthcare provider may put your wrist in a splint or a brace to keep your wrist from putting pressure on the nerve. This may be full time or worn only at night.
He or she may also prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated successfully by chiropractors. They use methods such as manipulation of the wrist, elbow, and upper spine, ultrasound therapy and muscle release techniques.
Acupuncture is another option for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. Studies suggest that acupuncture restores normal nerve function and can provide long-term pain relief for this condition.
Patients who do not improve with any of the above treatment may require surgery. The procedure involves cutting the ligament that is pressing on the nerve. It provides complete relief in approximately 95% of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
The best way to avoid the pain and disability that comes with carpal tunnel syndrome is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Just a few simple changes in your work and leisure habits can make a world of difference. Consider the following advice.
- Stretch or flex your arms and fingers before beginning work and at frequent intervals
- Alternate tasks to reduce the amount of repetitive movements
- Modify or change daily activities that put pressure on your wrists
- Modify your work environment. If you use a computer, have an adjustable keyboard table and chair, and a wrist rest