If you or someone you know has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, you understand just how debilitating it can be. Constant pain and the inability to perform even the simplest of tasks are just a few of the frustrating symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented – or even corrected – with behavioral modifications alone. However, for some people with severe or prolonged carpal tunnel syndrome, professional intervention may be needed.
The knowledgeable and experienced team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, led by Dr. Christopher Williams, is dedicated to helping patients identify the underlying cause of their condition and providing advice and/or treatment for quick, long-lasting symptom relief. In addition, Dr. Williams stresses the point of future prevention, helping patients avoid subsequent bouts of carpal tunnel syndrome. To better understand how carpal tunnel can be treated and prevented, it is important to first establish some basic facts about the condition and what may cause it.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Technically speaking, carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve that runs from the forearm to the wrist, passing through the carpal tunnel, is compressed and, ultimately, becomes inflamed. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause a variety of painful and irritating symptoms, including:
- Numbness in the hand and arm
- Tingling in the hand and arm
- Weak grip
- Pain with wrist movements
- Pain that wakes you up at night
For many Atlanta, GA patients, carpal tunnel symptoms can be effectively relieved by simple changes in behavior if caught early enough. When carpal tunnel is left untreated, the condition progressively worsens. This often leads to the need for professional intervention and medical treatment. If you are experiencing any of the above signs of carpal tunnel, it is important to act swiftly to prevent your symptoms from becoming more pronounced.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
There are a variety of mechanical, behavioral, and anatomic causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, and, in some cases, the condition is caused by a combination of these. Some of the most common causes of carpal tunnel pain include:
- History of injury to the wrist
- Small wrists (making women more prone to get carpal tunnel syndrome than men)
- Chronic conditions (diabetes, inflammatory illness, and others)
- Occupations that require repetitive hand/wrist motions (hairdresser, musician)
With the variety of different factors that can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome in Atlanta, GA, it can, oftentimes, be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause(s) of the condition without assistance. During your initial consultation, Dr. Williams will take ample time to evaluate your case and ask a number of questions regarding your lifestyle, activities, and health history in order to determine the likeliest cause of your pain and recommend a course of action to provide quick and significant relief, as well as prevention of future flare-ups.
How can I prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
Knowing how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is, arguably, more important than being able to treat the symptoms themselves. Practice these five simple tips to help avoid experiencing carpal tunnel pain in the future:
1. Avoid repetitive motions: Undoubtedly, performing repetitive motions of the hand, particularly those which require the wrist to be in a bent position, is one of the biggest culprits of carpal tunnel syndrome. While it may be impossible to avoid these motions altogether, perhaps due to your occupation, you can lessen the impact they have by taking frequent breaks and changing your hand position at regular intervals. If possible, you can even try performing the task with your other hand from time to time.
2. Keep your wrists straight: When you are working on your computer, watching TV, or even sleeping, you may be unknowingly resting your wrists in a bent position. Keeping your wrists in a straight, neutral position is an important part of avoiding unnecessary pressure on the median nerve. To help get yourself in the habit of maintaining a neutral wrist position, wearing wrist splints during certain activities may be beneficial.
3. Pay attention to your grip: Most people are unaware of how hard they may be gripping things or how much force they are using during routine activities. Try to be more conscious of your grip and loosen it whenever possible to prevent unnecessary strain and pressure on your hands.
4. Keep your hands warm: Think of runners and athletes who wear sweatsuits and gloves in the hours leading up to a race. Keeping your muscles and joints warm is beneficial in preventing stiffness and pain. The same concept can be applied to your wrists and hands. Try wearing fingerless gloves when you are typing or working in order to keep the other structures in your hands and wrists as warm and loose as possible.
5. Stretch: It goes without saying that stretching plays an essential role in avoiding injury, whether you are an athlete, a chef, or a stay-at-home mom. There are countless stretches and exercises you can perform with your hands, wrists, and fingers to keep them loose and reduce pressure and tension.
How is carpal tunnel pain treated?
If you are already experiencing carpal tunnel pain in Atlanta, GA, it is crucial that you seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid long-term symptoms and complications. At-home stretches and exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, and behavioral modifications can all be effective in relieving carpal tunnel pain, but, in some cases, you may need more formal treatment for persistent or severe symptoms.
During your appointment with Dr. Williams, he will examine your hand and wrist and possibly perform diagnostic tests to further elucidate the cause of your symptoms. He may then recommend corticosteroid injections or even surgery if your condition has progressed beyond what can be treated with behavioral modification alone.
Don’t suffer from recurrent carpal tunnel syndrome any longer. Call Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to schedule your consultation with Dr. Christopher Williams today, and learn more about how you can prevent future symptoms and get the much-needed relief from your current carpal tunnel pain sooner than you think!