Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which extends along the forearm and the hand, is being pressed or squeezed around the wrist area. Thickening from irritated tendons puts pressure on the median nerve, causing pain or numbness of the fingers, hand and wrist. Carpal Tunnel pain can occasionally radiate up the forearm.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually start with a burning, tingling, or itchy numbness in the palm of the hand that is especially noticeable in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Eventually, it becomes difficult to grasp small objects or form a fist. In severe cases of carpal tunnel, the muscles at the base of the thumb can waste away; making it difficult to tell between hot and cold by mere touch.
Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome should begin as early as possible, under a doctor’s direction, especially if you suffer from arthritis or diabetes. First aid home treatment generally involves resting the affected hand and wrist for a minimum of 2 weeks. Try to use your other “good” hand as much as possible when performing daily tasks. It is also helpful to immobilize the affected hand with a wrist brace, thumb splint, or specially made carpal tunnel brace to avoid further damage to the tendons. Applying cool packs can help reduce any swelling and inflammation.
Alternative therapies include yoga, which has been shown to reduce pain and improve grip strength among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Acupuncture and chiropractic care have benefited some patients but their effectiveness has not been proven. No matter what treatment options you choose, if symptoms do not improve within 6 months, and you have not already sought medical help, it is advisable to speak to qualified medical personnel.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm