You’ve just finished whitewashing your old wooden dining set to fit your new farmhouse design and have started eyeing the rest of your furniture to refinish. But you start to notice pain and tingling in your wrist. It’s possible you got a little overzealous with the sanding, scraping, and painting and developed carpal tunnel. You may need to take a break before your next DIY, but the good news is that carpal tunnel can usually be resolved or reduced by taking the preventative measures discussed below.
What causes carpal tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the pain and numbness in your hand from pressure onto the median nerve of the wrist. The median nerve runs from the palm of the hand to the forearm and can become squeezed at the wrist. Swelling and inflammation from arthritis, as well as a wrist fracture, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome by reducing the space around the nerve.
Unless there is nerve damage or a severe restriction of normal activities, several weeks to months of nonsurgical treatments can usually reduce symptoms. The following treatments can help you manage carpal tunnel:
- Take breaks: give your hand and wrist a rest periodically and bend and stretch your hands
- Limit or break up repetitive activities that worsen symptoms
- Lighten your grip: excess force can exacerbate carpal tunnel symptoms. Even pounding your keyboard with the wrist tensed as you focus on your work can cause carpal tunnel, so lightening your touch and relaxing your arm can help.
- Cold packs: help to reduce the swelling
- Wrist splints: relieve nighttime (and sometimes daytime) tingling and numbness by reducing the pressure on the median nerve
- Medications: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen can provide short-term pain relief
- Corticosteroid injections: can reduce pain and decrease inflammation
Carpal Tunnel Release
If there is nerve damage or severe symptoms that are not reduced with conservative treatments, then sometimes surgery may be necessary.
During carpal tunnel release, the surgeon makes a small incision in the wrist and enlarges the carpal tunnel. This allows more room for the nerve and tendons, so that the pressure on your nerve that causes irritation and pain is reduced. The surgeon will close the incision and splint the wrist after surgery, and you are usually able to go home the same day.
Surgery for carpal tunnel typically has a short recovery period. The pain and numbness in your hand may immediately reduce or take a few months to start to go away. The physical therapists at ORTHOKnox can help you strengthen your wrist and hand during your recovery period.
With its board-certified surgeons and Urgent Orthopaedic Care that is available without an appointment, ORTHOKnox has got you covered. For more information about how ORTHOKnox can treat your carpal tunnel, call (865) 251-3030, or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to hearing from you!