If you’re like most people, you take your wrists and hands—and all the things they help you do—for granted…until they cause you pain. Although you use them to carry out many different tasks, some activities can put stress on your wrist joints.
This stress can compress the median nerve that runs through a passageway in your wrist, called the carpal tunnel. This nerve helps your hands and wrists move and feel. When the tunnel narrows because of this compression, it pushes on your median nerve.
Since other conditions can share the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and because the condition can worsen without treatment, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a provider who can accurately diagnose and treat the underlying issue causing your CTS.
At Modern Migraine MD in Manhattan, NYC, Toms River, New Jersey, Aventura, Florida, and virtually in 13 states, board-certified neurologist Risa Ravitz, MD, offers solutions that reduce the pain, numbness, weakness, and other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
In the meantime, here are our top five tips for reducing carpal tunnel pain and the ways we can help manage your condition.
When you have carpal tunnel syndrome and your symptoms flare, it’s a sign it’s time to rest your wrists. Although it can be difficult to do since we use our hands for almost everything, it’s important to give your wrists a break from anything that triggers your symptoms.
If your job or hobby requires repetitive wrist movements, like typing, chopping, playing a musical instrument, knitting, etc., take frequent breaks. You can change up the hand you use for different tasks, or stop to stretch your wrist and hands a few times every hour.
You can reduce your carpal tunnel pain by easing the pressure on your median nerve. While severe cases of CTS may require surgery to minimize this pressure, you can help reduce compression by wearing braces or splints on your wrists to keep your hands and wrists correctly aligned.
You also want to make your work or hobby area ergonomically friendly. For example, keep your wrists above your hands when you type, and position your elbows close to your sides. This reduces pressure on the median nerve in your wrists.
Most people use more force than necessary when carrying out everyday tasks. For example, you might have a habit of banging at the keyboard when you type or gripping tools and utensils tightly. This can make the symptoms of carpal tunnel worse. To reduce CTS pain, work at using a light touch.
Research tells us simple lifestyle changes, like being mindful of your sleeping position, can help minimize CTS pain. If you rest on your hands or curl them under you while you sleep, you can make your carpal tunnel symptoms worse. Try changing your sleep position or wearing wrist braces at night to keep your hands and wrists in the right position.
If the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome keeps you from doing the things you enjoy or prevents you from resting, you can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen. These over-the-counter medicines help minimize inflammation and reduce pain. You also apply ice or cold packs for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
Without treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome usually worsens over time. However, if you see Dr. Ravitz at Modern Migraine MD as soon as possible, she can help slow or reverse the condition. This can mean avoiding surgery and other invasive therapies.
Dr. Ravitz begins by evaluating your symptoms, reviewing your overall health and medical history, examining your wrists and hands, and orders any diagnostic tests necessary to create a personalized carpal tunnel treatment plan.
For patients with in-office appointments, Dr. Ravitz assesses your wrist and hand sensation and function and may conduct electrodiagnostic studies, such as a nerve conduction study (NCS) or needle electromyography (EMG) to evaluate nerve function and identify any nerve damage.
Most of the time, Dr. Ravitz begins carpal tunnel treatment with noninvasive therapies like lifestyle and activity changes, at-home exercises, and wrist splints or braces. She works with your other healthcare providers to ensure you get the ongoing carpal tunnel care and treatment you need.