What is Carpal Tunnel?
Have you ever suffered from numbness or tingling in your arms or hands? Has the feeling been persistent for some months now and getting worse each day? If that is the case, you might be suffering from carpal tunnel. CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) is basically the numbness, weakness and tingling problem in your arms, hands, and fingers.
The condition usually occurs as a result of the pressure that has been exerted on the tunnel due to blockage. Tendons and the median nerve pass through this tunnel and any blockage causes pressure. It is usually the median nerve that controls the movement of your first three fingers and the thumb and not the first little finger as most people think.
This condition develops slowly and mostly goes unnoticed in the early stages. However, you’re likely to notice the first symptoms at night or when you wake. The numbness or tingling is similar to the “pins and needles” feeling you get when your hands fall asleep. As the symptoms develop, you might notice some pain or tingling during the day when driving or holding things.
Signs and Symptoms
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome usually starts in a gradual manner with some tingling and numbness in the index, thumb and middle fingers. The symptoms usually come and go developing gradually and becoming worse during the night or early in the morning when you wake up.
It can happen in one or both hands but most cases usually involve both hands. The numbness and tingling can sometimes spread to the forearm and the shoulders, although this is not common.
- Pain or numbness in your hand, wrist, and forearm become common during the night usually waking you up. The numbness is more in the middle or ring fingers, index and thumb. The pain might be eased by moving or shaking your hands.
- There is occasional tingling or numbness, what we call the “pins and needles” sensation, similar to what you feel when your hands fall asleep.
- There is pain and numbness that gets worse when using your wrist. The pain is more common when you flex your hand or grip on to something. This pain sensation is quite common when driving a car, holding a phone or reading a newspaper.
- One might also experience pains once in a while in the wrist and the elbow
- Early morning stiffness and pain can also be experienced.
- Some individuals might experience weakness in their hands and develop a tendency to drop things. The dropping of objects is due to the thumb’s pinching muscles that have been weakened. The thumb’s pinching muscles are usually controlled by the median nerve which, if affected, lessens our ability to hold objects properly.
Symptoms might occur in one or both hands. However, they tend to be worse in one hand. Most people with this syndrome can fall asleep with ease but have the pain waking them.
- Arthritis in the wrist joint
- Injury to muscle ligaments, bones, and tendons in the hand
When to See a Doctor
If you suffer from persistent signs and symptoms, then it is advisable you see a doctor. This is especially true if the symptoms interfere with your day to day activities. Leaving the condition untreated can lead to permanent nerve damage.
The main cause of this syndrome is blockage of the tunnel increasing the pressure there. The pressure is usually caused by a swelling or anything in the median nerve making the tunnel smaller than its usual size.
Remember we discussed how the median nerve that controls the movement of the fingers apart from the small finger. The small space is our tunnel and blocking it or reducing this space will prevent the movement of tendons and nerves from the forearm to the hand. Several things can cause the swelling. Some of the common causes of the swelling include:
• Various illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism
• Making the repeated movements with your wrist bent. This is so especially when the wrist is above the hand.
• Simply making the same repeated movements.
Mild symptoms of this condition can easily be treated at home through some available natural remedies. Early treatments are usually recommended if your desire is to stop the symptoms and prevent permanent damage to your muscles and nerves.
You might also take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs) to help relieve the pain and the swelling. Other medicines can also be prescribed. Surgery on the patient's wrist can be considered but only when the symptoms are extreme and you can’t work.
Fortunately, there are several natural home remedies that can help treat the condition before it worsens. Most people with mild carpal tunnel may ease these symptoms with simple lifestyle changes.
Natural Carpal Tunnel Remedies
Take a break from tasks that are repetitive
What is that task that you do repeatedly with your hands? Whether it is playing a guitar, typing or using a hand drill, take a break for several minutes and wiggle your fingers a little bit. You can stretch your hands and wrists to improve the flow of blood.
Wear splints on your wrists
Wearing splints on your wrists helps keep the wrist straight. This helps relieve the pressure and prevent the symptoms. Wearing the splint(s) in the evening before you go to bed is advised.
Individuals with repetitive tasks can also wear splints when working. The splints are a great preventive measure that ensures the wrist remains straight and the pressure exerted is not way too much when working. You can always ask your doctor or physiotherapist for advice on the ideal splint to wear.
Lighten your grip a little bit
Do not strain or use a lot of force when doing tasks that require your fingers like typing, writing or using a register. Try and relax your grip as you work. Using soft grip pens and/or tapping keys more lightly may help for example.
Keeping your hands and fingers warm at all times is a great way to reduce the stiffness and pain. You can do this by wearing fingerless gloves or having hand warmers with you at all times. Warmth helps reduce the stiffness and the pain making you work for longer without experiencing the symptoms.
Take care of your flexion
Sometimes, you have to do activities that are more likely to flex your arm in either direction. Always ensure your wrists are in neutral positions as much as possible. Do not rush to flex your hand unnecessary especially if you’ve experienced early signs and symptoms of this condition.
Stretch whenever you can
Whenever you have a chance, do quick wrist exercises to ease the pressure and reduce the symptoms. Make a fist and then slide your fingers until they are straight again. Do this repeatedly whenever you’re free or just in a line waiting for something. Repeating this for like 10 minutes can help reduce the pressure and ease the pain.
Elevate your wrist and hands whenever free
Elevating your wrist and hands is helpful especially if your CTS is caused by things like fractures and pregnancy. These are cases where fluid has been retained and is blocking the carpal tunnel. Elevating your hands and wrists can help with the flow of the fluids reducing the pressure and eventually easing the numbness and pain.
Slather on some pain relief
Studies have shown that applying pain relief products may help reduce the pain as you work. Try and apply topical menthol whenever you feel the pain during a busy day at work when you can’t afford a break. However, it is always recommended you consult with your doctor on the right pain reliever to use.
Try some over the counter medications
Some over the counter (OTC) medications like aspirin and ibuprofen have been shown to be beneficial offering some relief to the patient. They help reduce the pain and the inflammation around the nerve.
If the remedies above don’t work for you, then definitely consider visiting a doctor and getting immediate help before the symptoms worsen and the condition becomes permanent requiring surgery. Doctors can prescribe medications or teach you more advanced exercises that help reduce the pain. However, most mild conditions can be treated with the simple home remedies above.
Natural Carpal Tunnel Remedies Conclusion
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in most cases can turn out to be quite painful if not treated early enough in life and be disruptive. Always seek proper medication whenever you notice any symptoms or apply the home remedies we have discussed above.
If the home remedies do not work, then try visiting a doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment are one of the best ways to prevent permanent damage to your nerves in the wrist. CTS is not as serious if early measures are taken to prevent it from worsening. It can be treated with ease at home and prevented from becoming worse.