Treating Carpal Tunnel Without Surgery
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs in the wrist causing pain, numbness and tingling. It happens when the median nerve, a nerve that runs through the wrist, becomes compressed. This is due to a narrowing of the passageway called the carpal tunnel.
As time goes on, many individuals find this condition gets worse. Without proper treatment and early intervention, permanent damage may occur and surgery may be required. Luckily, if you get it checked and treated soon enough, you won’t have to endure any invasive treatments, such as surgery.
In this article, we’ll explore the causes of carpal tunnel, the symptoms and how you can relieve your carpal tunnel syndrome pain – without surgery.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Essentially, anything that causes compression or narrowing of the carpal tunnel can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a very small opening in the wrist, surrounded by carpal bones and connective tissue. Since the opening only allows enough room for blood vessels, nerves and tendons to pass through, it doesn’t take much to cause compression of these structures and thus, pain.
Typically, this condition arises gradually. You might feel slight numbness, tingling and pain in the hand — which progressively gets worse. In more severe cases, you might also experience weakness in the hand. For instance, you may find you are dropping objects more than normal.
Various factors can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Risk factors include:
- Genetics – You may naturally have a more narrow carpal tunnel which may contribute to an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Repetitive use of the hand or wrist – If you repeatedly use your hand or wrist, muscles or tendons may become irritated and inflamed. This can narrow the carpal tunnel and place pressure on nerves and other structures.
- Keeping the hand or wrist in the same position for a long duration – This may happen when resting your hands or wrists incorrectly on your keyboard for long hours throughout the day. You might notice your wrists become achy and sore after. This is a sign that you may need to invest in a wrist or hand rest or take more breaks.
- Pregnancy – During pregnancy, a woman experiences various hormonal changes. These fluctuations can contribute to increased inflammation and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Certain health conditions – Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid imbalances and diabetes, may also result in carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Existing symptoms or a history of neck or arm injuries can also contribute to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or other injuries that present very similarly.
How Can You Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
If caught early enough, simple and non-invasive treatment strategies can help relieve and reduce your symptoms. These treatment methods may include:
1. Physiotherapy & Exercise
Physiotherapy is an excellent option to properly diagnose the origins of the symptoms, be it your neck, forearm or wrist. After proper diagnosis, physiotherapy can help relieve your symptoms, as well as prevent them from coming back. In physiotherapy, your therapist will use acupuncture, manual treatment strategies, stretches and other exercises to help you get back to your normal. For example, nerve gliding exercises may help the median nerve become “unstuck,” decreasing symptoms.
Additionally, a brace or splint that holds the wrist in place can help reduce your symptoms by giving the area time to rest and settle. Typically, a splint or brace is only worn at night. However, it can help reduce daytime symptoms as well.
2. Over-the-Counter NSAIDs
Using over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen and others, can help reduce inflammation and pain. However, you do not want to take these medications longer than two weeks. More than two weeks of use is associated with gastrointestinal issues and other adverse side effects.
3. Steroid Injections
Depending on your situation, your physiotherapist may recommend you visit your doctor to have a conversation about corticosteroid injections. These are stronger anti-inflammatory solutions, designed to temporarily help ease your pain and symptoms.
Contact ADM Ottawa Physiotherapy
If you’re experiencing the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome and live in Ottawa, Ontario, contact ADM Ottawa Physiotherapy. Allow our experienced team to help you say goodbye to pain for good. You’ll avoid invasive surgery and get back to the activities you love that much faster. Book your appointment today!