Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve entrapment issue in the United States, affecting 4-10 million people. While it may not qualify as a serious neurological issue, it can be a nagging one and have no small impact on your ability to use your wrist freely.
If you’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome before, or you’d rather not experience it in the first place, there are a few steps that you can take to help you avoid the uncomfortable nerve entrapment.
As experienced nerve health experts, our team here at Complete Neurological Care pulled together some information about carpal tunnel syndrome and some prevention techniques.
In order to talk about prevention, let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of the area we’re discussing and how carpal tunnel syndrome develops.
Your carpal tunnel is located on the underside of your wrist and is formed by carpal bones and a carpal ligament. This small, inch-wide space provides passage for nine flexor tendons, as well as your median nerve.
With carpal tunnel syndrome, this already crowded space becomes even narrower due to inflammation. The swelling compresses your median nerve, which can lead to pain, numbness, and tingling in your wrist, hand, and fingers.
Risks for carpal tunnel syndrome you can’t control
In order to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, you need to understand your risks, which include factors over which you have no control.
For example, women are three times as likely as men to develop the condition due to naturally smaller carpal tunnels, as well as hormone fluctuations that can lead to swelling in the small space. Obviously, this is one factor over which you have no control.
Another risk factor that you can’t influence is genetics. If your family has a history of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may inherit a propensity for the nerve entrapment.
Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome within your control
Now, let’s take a look at some of the risk factors that you might be able to change, starting with repetitive hand use and wrist position.
You can develop swelling in the carpal tunnel if you stress your wrist doing the same movement over and over. For example, assembly line workers, painters, or heavy keyboard users may place extra stress on their wrists, which can lead to inflammation inside the carpal tunnel.
The position of your wrist can also lead to problems if you hold your wrist in a cocked position for long periods, rather than in a straight line from your elbows to your hands.
In these cases, you can perform nerve gliding exercises, which go a long way toward easing the inflammation and helping the nerve and tendons to work together. Examples of these exercises can be found here.
In addition to nerve gliding exercises, we urge you to wear a splint on your wrist to keep it straight. Wear the splint while you work and at night to keep your wrist straight while you sleep.
Repetitive hand use and wrist position aren’t the only reasons for carpal tunnel syndrome. You may have a health issue that places you more at risk, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
In these cases, the best way to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome is to work with your health care providers on managing these chronic diseases to prevent complications like carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you’re struggling with this condition now, we recommend that you come see us for treatment as soon as possible. Your condition could get worse. You can slowly lose function in your hand, and your discomfort can increase.
For expert and experienced diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome, please contact one of our offices in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, or Margate, Florida, to schedule an appointment.