Learn How to Treat and Prevent Wrist Injuries
You’re kneading dough for your favorite bread and feel a tingling pain. It travels from the wrist to the forearm and towards the shoulder. You are knitting your child a new sweater and find your hands going weak or unable to grip the needles properly. You’re working at the store register counting cash and handing out change. You feel your thumb and index fingers going numb. You’re hammering away at your keyboard to finish that report for your boss as quickly as possible. A shooting pain in your lower palm and wrist stalls your progress.
Baking, cooking, typing, knitting, hairdressing, hand-weeding, spray painting, playing stringed instruments are all tasks that involve repetitive wrist movements. The repetition causes stiffness and increasing your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Other aspects that could stress your wrist include, awkward positioning, strong gripping, mechanical stress on the palm, or continuous use of vibrating or air-powered hand tools.
So, what is carpal tunnel syndrome?
It is an inch-long passageway in the wrist, made up of ligaments and tiny wrist bones. The carpal tunnel protects the median nerve and flexor tendons, which control the bending of your fingers and thumb. When the tunnel narrows, or the lubricating tissues surrounding the tunnel swell, there is an abnormal pressure on your median nerve. This causes tingling, numbness, pain or weakness in the hand and impedes the movement of your hand or entire arm. Read on to know more about this condition and how it can be treated or prevented.
How to Avoid or Overcome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Non-Occupational Causes: In addition to repetitive movements associated with specific tasks or occupations, carpal tunnel syndrome may occur due to:
- Hereditary factors, where an anatomically different carpal tunnel restricts the space of the median nerve.
- Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, menopause, hypothyroidism, or the use of oral contraceptives.
- Wrist fractures or dislocation due to accidents.
- Diseases such as arthritis, diabetes or gout.
Diagnosis: Medical practitioners diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome by performing certain tests that throw light on the damage to the median nerve. These may include:
- Tinel’s Test: Tapping the median nerve at the wrist for a response.
- Phalen’s Test: Putting the back of your hands together and bending the wrists to check the response.
- Electromyography: Electrode-based nerve transmission measurement to know more about the damage to the median nerve.
Prevention: From redesigning tools and workstations, to changing jobs or doing targeted wrist exercises, there are several ways to keep carpal tunnel syndrome at bay. You may also be able to prevent it by consciously avoiding potentially stressful wrist positions and movements. Research shows that women are more likely than men to suffer from this problem, because of the smaller size of their carpal tunnels.
Treatments: If you notice that the pain in your wrist or tingling or numbness in the fingers is coming in the way of important tasks or activities, visit a doctor for an early diagnosis and timely treatment. If this condition is not recognized or treated early, not only will your symptoms worsen, but your muscles or median nerve could face permanent damage. In severe cases, you may entirely lose function in your hand.
For treatment, your doctor may:
- Advise lifestyle changes
- Prescribe anti-inflammatory oral medication
- Temporary immobilize the wrist with a splint
- Suggest surgical recourse, if nothing else is effective.
Exercises supervised by a physical or occupational therapist may also help in getting relief from carpal tunnel syndrome. If you are looking for physical therapy treatments for wrist injuries, count on the professionals at Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania (MRCP). From comprehensive root-cause diagnostics to tailor-made treatment plans, our licensed physical therapists focus on pain relief as well as restoration of mobility and function.
To book an appointment for physical therapy treatments in and around the Philadelphia and Greater Philadelphia area, contact us at the location of your choice. You can also complete our online form and we will get back to you soon.