Carpal tunnel develops slowly. Symptoms include pain and tingling when holding things like a phone or book, or when driving. At first, you’re most likely to notice it at night or when you first wake up in the morning. The feeling is similar to the “pins-and-needles” sensation you get when your hand falls asleep. There may be weakness in the thumb and first two fingers, and you may have difficulty making fist or grasp objects, buttoning your shirt, and dropping things. Other problems include numbness in the hands, feeling of swollen hands though no present signs of swelling, and loss of cold or hot sensory feelings.
Underlying causes such as diabetes or arthritis will need treatment. Then your doctor may advise resting the hand and wrist and wearing a brace to limit movement. Night use is important to prevent the wrist from curling during sleep, which can make symptoms flare up. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, along with cold compresses, may reduce pain.
Speak to your doctor about diagnosing you for carpal tunnel. Explain to them the severity of the symptoms you are having to determine if it is mild or if you may need surgery, and discuss over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain.
1. Take more frequent breaks when using your wrists. Try a break for 10-15 minutes every hour and stretch your hands. And try to alternate which hand you use during different tasks.
2. Applying cold compresses to help reduce swelling in the area. you may want to put ice on your wrist or soak it in an ice bath. Try it for 10 to 15 minutes, once or twice an hour.
3. Braces are generally best when you have mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. They don’t work for everyone, but there are no side effects either, so it doesn’t hurt to try one. Make sure to give it a good 3-4 weeks for your symptoms to improve.
Your doctor will likely suggest that you wear a brace when you go to bed. That’s because most people bend their wrists when they sleep, which can make your symptoms worse. You can also try a brace during the day, especially when you do activities that trigger flare-ups.
4. Relieve nighttime pain by gently shaking your hand and wrist or hanging your hand over the side of the bed.
5. Stretching techniques. Yoga and Massage therapy can help treat and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by promoting circulation, relieving inflammation, aiding in removal of metabolic residues, and soothing the irritated muscles and tendons. Ask your massage therapist about techniques you can do at your desk during breaks and down time.
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