Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common hand related medical problem, caused by pressure on the median nerve. A person with this condition may experience pain, numbness or tingling sensation, and general weakness within the hand and wrists area.
The anatomy of one’s wrist, existing health problems, and possibly repetitive hand movements can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Proper first aid treatment can relieve symptoms and help the person regain the function of their wrist and hand.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition affecting the hand and wrist. It happens when the median nerve is compressed or pinched.
The median nerve is a sensory and motor nerve that runs from the forearm to the hand. It usually runs through a narrow space called the carpal tunnel, hence the term used for the injury.
The carpal tunnel contains bones, ligaments, and the median nerve. It is responsive to controlling sensation and facilitating movements within the hand.
Once the median nerve is compressed or even pinched, it can result in symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. These include pain, tingling sensation, numbness, and weakness of the hand.
CTS was first described in the mid-1800s, with the first surgery done in the early 90s. It is a condition that surgeons have widely recognised for many years.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms may include:
- General weakness (hard time gripping objects using the hands)
- Pain or feeling of numbness in one or both hands
- Pins and needles feeling in the thumb and middle fingers
- Swollen feeling
- Burning or tingling sensations
The symptoms of CTS may be similar to other medical problems. The condition is relatively common in Australia, with thousands of people experiencing pain in their hands and wrists.
In severe cases, it may even require surgery.
Appropriate first aid treatment is necessary to help restore hand and wrist function, relieve symptoms, and prevent further complications.
First Aid Remedies for Carpal Tunnel Relief
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be uncomfortable or painful, but it is treatable at home.
Here are five remedies to treat CTS.
Take breaks from repetitive tasks.
Taking short stretch breaks throughout the day helps open up the irritated carpal tunnel that leads to this injury.
Do some hands and wrist movements to improve blood flow to these critical areas. These will also help in relieving any pressure and other symptoms.
Try Hand Exercises
Hand exercises involving tendons may reduce the swelling around the median nerve.
Studies show that tendon and nerve gliding exercises help in relieving CTS symptoms. At the same time, people who did not engage in any movements did not see any reduction in pain and other sensations.
Pain Relievers and OTC medications
The use of over the counter (OTC) pain medications such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin has some short-term benefits. It can help relieve pain and reduce inflammations surrounding the nerve.
Experts say that applying ice to the wrist may ease some pain and swell from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Avoid leaving the ice for too long as it may cause redness and irritation. Do it for no longer than 20 minutes in each application.
Wear splints on the wrists
Keeping the wrists straight can help relieve pressure on the median nerve. Symptoms are more prone at night, and wearing a splint may prevent uninterrupted sleep due to pain.
Wearing splints during the day is also recommended if one has issues with repetitive tasks at work. Doing so will help keep the wrists from moving, which eases the nerve compression inside the carpal tunnel.
When to consider surgery
If home treatment does not help alleviate the pain within a few weeks, it is best to see a doctor.
An orthopedic physician specialising in bones, joints, and muscles treatment can help diagnose the condition. More intensive treatment may be required if there is severe damage within the median nerve.
Surgery also applies to prevent sensory or permanent function loss.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be painful and causes disruptions to everyday living. These home remedies can help control symptoms, relieve pain, and prevent future complications.
For developing symptoms, seek a doctor’s opinion on ways to relieve pain and pressure. Early diagnosis and first aid treatment are the best way to prevent permanent nerve damage.
Learn first aid to recognise early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.