Best Ways to Treat Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common painful disorder caused by compression of the median nerve within the wrist. It’s known to become increasingly common in seniors, and in fact, almost 3% of the population deals with carpal tunnel. People with CTS may complain of “pins and needles” in the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half of the ring finger, as well as pain in the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones below the wrist at the heel of the hand, which houses the median nerve and tendons. As we grow older, this passageway can become more stiff and narrow, often causing carpal tunnel. Luckily, there are numerous ways that you can treat carpal tunnel so you can ensure that you still have painless movement in your joints. Below are just a few of the best ways to treat carpal tunnel.
Best Ways to Treat Carpal Tunnel
Splints and Braces
One of the first ways that many seniors will treat carpal tunnel is with a splint or brace. These will keep the wrist in place to ensure that any unneeded stress is not put upon the joint. This is an important part of the healing process for the inflamed band surrounding the median nerve since bending the wrist compresses the wrist and inflames the nerve. Many will even wear the splint at night to prevent any wrist movement during sleep.
It might sound obvious, but one of the best ways to treat carpal tunnel is to rest your wrist as much as you can. You might not realize it, but we use our hands and wrists for almost everything, so it’s no surprise that this constant movement can leave you in a lot of pain and discomfort. If you do anything that flexes and bends your wrists or fingers repeatedly, such as knitting, this may contribute to or worsen your CTS. Try to take a 5-minute break every hour. Also, try to refrain from sleeping on your forearm and wrist, or engaging in the repetitive activities that initially caused your symptoms. If you work on a computer all day, don't spend your free time playing computer games. CTS is common in those who have a career that involved tedious work with his or her hands, so you or your senior might want to find a hands-free activity like listening to music or watching TV.
One of the more proactive solutions and one of the best ways to treat carpal tunnel is physical therapy. Whether if it’s with a licensed professional, or at-home treatment, physical therapy is a great way to relieve CTS pain. An occupational or physical therapist can show you how to position your wrists correctly when you perform actions that might otherwise irritate the median nerve. For instance, if computer work triggers symptoms, a therapist will make sure that when you're sitting, your elbows are bent at 90-degree angles to the keyboard and your fingers rest lightly on the keys. It’s also a good idea to stretch the wrist by straightening your arm out and pulling gently on your fingers. This tension should help stimulate the nerves and relieve some of the pain and discomfort you may be dealing with.
The best way to treat carpal tunnel and have the issue taken care of permanently is to have endoscopic surgery. During endoscopic surgery, the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the wrist (or wrist and palm) and inserts a thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera on the end, so the tunnel can be seen on a computer screen. You will then be treated with pain medication and anti-inflammatory medicine to ensure that you are able to make a proper recovery. You will also most likely be required to do some physical therapy or other exercises to regain your strength and movement back within the wrist. Regardless, make sure to explore all options and consult with your doctor before you elect to have surgery. Like any major surgery, complications can happen, but this is the best option when it comes to making a full recovery.
If you have any other questions regarding carpal tunnel syndrome or any other ailment that is or could affect your senior, submit your question to our FAQs page ASAP!