Practically unheard of, carpal tunnel syndrome is rapidly becoming a burden of modern society. CTS is defined as the type of injury named repetitive strain injury, which can include trigger finger, nerve spasms, and carpal tunnel syndrome. This definition is used to name a set of symptoms that occur when the median nerve in the wrist is damaged or compressed. This nerve controls the palm, thumb muscle, and the first three fingers of the hand. The median nerve is vulnerable to compression or injury from a number of sources such as water retention, pressure from bone spurs, diabetes, bone dislocation or facture. CTS is affiliated with repetitive wrist motion injury, which is linked to repetitive and continues use of the fingers. Once considered an occupational hazard affecting only supermarket checkout clerks CTS has made its way into our homes by the use of computers. Today, CTS is common among people who use computers extensively. It has also been known to cause a strong and steady vibration that can shake the entire wrist for a long period of time. People who occupations have been linked to CTS include athletes, musicians, drivers, hairstylist, assembly line workers, restaurant workers, writers to name a few. Whatever the cause, an estimated 1.2 million people per year consult a doctor about this injury.
Symptoms of CTS can range from mild numbness and faint tingling to excruciating pain accompanied by a crippling atrophy (partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body) of the muscles in the thumb. It is usually experienced as a burning, tingling, or numbness in the thumb and the first three fingers. This tingling is usually referred to as feeling similar to the “pins and needles” associated with a limb that has “fallen asleep”, and it involves a general weakening of the thumb.
Here are some suggestions to combat CTS and although this is sound advice always seek the advice of a professional physician.
- Try using your entire hand to grip an object.
- Whenever possible, use a tool instead of forcibly trying.
- Make sure that you have proper posture when using the computer.
- Adjust the computer screen so that it is two feet away from you and just below your line of sight.
- Take a break every hour of a few minutes and shake your hands to stretch those fingers.
- Place a rubber band around the fingers to provide resistance, and then open and close your fingers. Do this at least three times per day in sets of ten per hand.
- Another simple exercise is done by rotating the wrist. Move your hands around in a circle for about two minutes, completely stretching the muscles of the hands. This will help to restore circulation and improve the posture of your writs.