by Amy Pusey
(last updated April 22, 2009)
Computer technicians, data entry specialists, administrative assistants, even factory line workers. One thing they may all have in common is chronic wrist pain due to the repetitive nature of their daily work. This is what is commonly referred to as, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If this term is unfamiliar to you, you may be wondering, 'what is a carpal?' and 'where is the tunnel?' Well, that is easily answered, and it is not as mysterious as it may sound. The carpal tunnel is likened to a tube located within your wrist, and it is made up of three carpal bones connected in a half-moon with the tube-shape completed by a ligament on the fourth side. Inside that tunnel we have a nerve, several tendons, and tissue that protect the tendons. All of this fits comfortably inside this tunnel, and the tissue will periodically swell in order to protect the tendons. However, when it continues or remains swollen, it then presses on the nerve creating the discomfort or severe pain you may feel in your wrist.
Now, that you know what it is, there are several symptoms that you can look to identify to determine if you may be experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. They include:
If you have been experiencing some of the minor symptoms for a short period of time, sometimes giving your hands a break of what you are doing, and give your hands a good shake because this motion will help alleviate the pressure on the nerve inside your wrist. In addition, the position in which you sleep can create tingling and numbness in your hands and wrist because most of us move around a lot when we sleep. In the process, our hands can become hyperextended, which is when it is extended beyond its normal range of movement (bent backwards,) or it can become hyperflexed, which is the opposite and is when the angle between the joint and bones is made smaller (bent forward toward the wrist.)
Depending on the severity of the condition, a doctor may determine that with a mild case a course of physical therapy, heat applications, or possibly massage therapy will be suitable to eliminate the discomfort associated, along with the recommendation to alter your routine. However, if the case is more serious and requires a more in-depth treatment, there are a number of remedies available. Beginning with the less intrusive, they include:
Often, changes must be made to your daily routine or lifestyle in order for treatments to remain effective, and to prevent re-occurrences of any familiar symptoms. When you have become comfortable with those changes, you will find that you can live a pain-free life and maintain unrestricted mobility of your hands and wrists.
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