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Early Warning Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and How to Keep Hands & Wrists Healthy

If you type on a computer all day or have hobbies that require repetitive hand motions, you could be at a greater risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a very painful and debilitating condition that at least three percent of women and two percent of men in the U.S. will develop during their lifetimes. In this article, we’re looking at the early warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome and what you can do now to keep your wrists and hands healthy.

Photo credit: handarmdoc via Flickr

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is an area of bones and ligaments at the base of your hand, and this is where the median nerve is located that facilitates movement of the fingers. A disorder of this body part occurs when the median nerve becomes squeezed at the wrist in an unnatural way. This phenomenon may feel like numbness, pain, and weakness in the wrist and hand, and the feelings may even radiate up the forearm. Women are more likely to develop this condition than men.

Early Warning Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Many people experience chronic hand and wrist pain and ignore it, thinking it will go away over time. People who have this condition will usually feel tingling in multiple fingers and the thumb. You may try to shake out your hands to relieve the symptoms, but this is not a long-term solution.

Carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers also often have a tendency to drop things they pick up due to weakness in the hands. It’s important to pay attention to these early warning signs because untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent damage of the nerves and muscles.

Conventional Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are available and commonly recommended for carpal tunnel syndrome depending on how early it is diagnosed and the severity of the condition. For minor to moderate symptoms, you can try wearing a splint on the wrists at night and taking over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Avoiding activities that provoke hand and wrist pain is always advised, and yoga has shown promising benefits for improving grip strength and reducing overall pain. In severe cases, open-release surgery or endoscopic surgery may be discussed as treatment options.

Photo credit: Susie Cagle via Flickr

Natural Solutions for Hand and Wrist Pain

While many people go to the gym or exercise their muscles and joints outdoors, the hands and wrists are often forgotten about. One great stretch for the wrists is called the corner stretch, which involves standing in the corner of a room, placing one palm on each wall, and gently moving forward until the elbows form a 90-degree angle.

Cool packs are often more effective in soothing carpal tunnel pain than hot packs. B vitamins also support nerve functioning, so make sure to eat well-balanced meals or consider supplements if you diet is deficient. Acupuncture may also be able to help with carpal tunnel symptoms as well.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Prevention Tips

Many people can’t avoid repetitive hand exercises because of the type of work they do, but preventative measures can still be taken. Practice stretching exercises throughout the day to increase strength and flexibility of the hands and wrists.

Also, take frequent breaks and change hand positions as much as possible. It may also help to wear finger-less gloves at work to keep the hands and fingers warm and flexible. An ergonomically designed keyboard and mouse can also help prevent carpal tunnel pain among office workers.

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