Four to 10 million people in the United States suffer from carpal tunnel symptoms, according to the American College of Rheumatology. If you are one of them, then you know how uncomfortable and frustrating the pain, numbness and weakness in your wrist, hand and fingers can be.
Fortunately, there are ways to ease these symptoms and regain use of your hand and wrist.
How to Ease Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
Talk to your hand doctor, who can help you create a personalized treatment plan that eases symptoms. Hand surgery is not always necessary but only qualified hand surgeons can tell you if a surgical procedure could alleviate the frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of your hand and fingers.
Start treatment early, as soon as symptoms begin. Prompt treatment as prescribed by a hand specialist may completely relieve your symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can also prevent permanent damage to the important nerve at the root of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Rest your wrist, hand and fingers. Stop any activities that might be causing your symptoms. Resume activities gradually after symptoms subside. As you start to use your hand again, keep your wrist straight or slightly bent.
Apply ice to your hand for 10 to 15 minutes, one to two times an hour anytime symptoms bother you.
Perform stretching and strengthening exercises as directed by your hand doctor or physical therapist. Exercise routines may include making a fist then sliding your fingers upward until they point straight up.
Wear a splint, provided by your hand specialist. You will likely need to wear the splint full time for 3 to 4 weeks then only at night.
Massage the affected area to stimulate circulation, which can reduce inflammation, and to soothe painful muscle spasms.
Take over-the-counter pain medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, ease swelling and pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Consider prescription medications. Diuretics, commonly known as “water pills,” reduce swelling and inflammation. Your hand doctor may suggest corticosteroids, such as prednisone, or lidocaine pills or injections directly into the affected wrist. These medications relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms at their source – the median nerve.
Talk to a hand surgeon to find out if hand surgery can relieve your carpal tunnel symptoms. Carpal tunnel release surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. Your hand doctor may recommend surgery if you have struggled with the pain, numbness and weakness of carpal tunnel syndrome for more than 6 months.
If you have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, talk to a hand doctor today to learn more tips to relieve your symptoms.