Typists: Beware of carpal tunnel syndrome

carpal tunnel syndromeYou’re working at your desk, trying to ignore the tingling or numbness you’ve had for some time in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through your wrist and up your arm.

Just a passing cramp? More likely you have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome:

Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into your hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of your hand. It contains nerve and tendons.

Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the nerve to be compressed. This leads to pain, weakness or numbness in your hand and wrist, all the way up your arm.

Symptoms:

Symptoms usually start gradually with frequent burning, tingling or itching numbness in the palm of your hand and fingers, especially your thumb, index and middle fingers. As they worsen, grasping objects can become difficult.

  • Numbness or tingling in your thumb and the next couple of fingers of one or both hands
  • Numbness or tingling in the palm of your hand
  • Pain up to your elbow
  • Pain in your wrist or hand in one or both hands
  • Problems grasping in one or both hands
  • Weak grip
  • Weakening of the muscle under your thumb in an advanced state
  • Difficulty carrying bags
  • Weakness in one or both hands

Causes:

What causes the problem? Sometimes people just have smaller carpal tunnels than other people do. But the most common cause is typing on a keyboard.

  • Repetitive motions, such as typing, sewing, driving, assembly line work, painting, writing, using hand tools that vibrate, playing sports like racquetball or handball and playing some music instruments.
  • Wrist injury
  • Swelling due to certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Who gets carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Patients are usually 30-60-years-old.
  • Women are three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men.

Treatment

Treatment may include resting your hand, rearranging your desk and computer, splints, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, and surgery.

You might also try a castor oil wrap to boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. Put some castor oil on a cloth, then put this on your wrist. Then put plastic wrap over it. Place a thin hand towel around this before you put a heating pad over the area for a half hour.

If you pain continues, see your doctor.

Robert W. Ferguson, D.C., F.I.A.M.A., state-licensed chiropractor and acupuncturist, sees patients at 2250 W. 86th Street, Ste. 100, on the north side of Indianapolis by Le Peep restaurant. Just look for the orange sign.

Chiropractic Rehabilitation & Acupuncture now accepts Healthy Indiana Plan for chiropractic services, and most insurance for chiropractic therapy and acupuncture.

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