This week I’m chatting about carpal tunnel. Not because I have this condition myself in both hands, but because I keep meeting more and more women who are also suffering with it too.
What is carpal tunnel is where we are going to start – here is a definition from Medicinenet:-
Carpal tunnel syndrome: Compression and irritation of the median nerve as it passes under the transverse carpal ligament in the wrist. Abbreviated CTS. CTS can be due to trauma from repetitive work, such as that of retail checkers and cashiers, assembly line workers, meat packers, typists, writers, and accountants. Other factors that can cause CTS include obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and diabetes. The symptoms of CTS include numbness, tingling, a ‘pins and needles’ feeling especially at night in the hand, particularly in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. CTS can also cause wrist pain, weakness in the grip, and a feeling of hand incoordination. In some cases, the pain seems to migrate up from the wrist and into the arm, shoulder, and neck. The diagnosis is suspected based on symptoms, supported by signs on physical examination, and confirmed by nerve conduction testing.
Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and the underlying cause. Early CTS is usually treated by modification of activities, a removable wrist brace, exercises and/or manipulation (massage), and anti-inflammatory medicines.
If detected early, CTS is reversible. If numbness and pain continue in the wrist and hand, a cortisone injection into the carpal tunnel can help. Surgery is used only when other treatments have failed. In advanced CTS, particularly if there are profound weakness and muscle atrophy (wasting), surgery is done to avoid permanent nerve damage.
I finally went to get my carpal tunnel confirmed this year. For a number of years, I had experienced the sensation of tingling, pins, and needles in my thumb and fourth fingers and getting numbness if I stayed on either side to sleep. The numbness would wake me up because of the dead arm sensation.
I’d left mine for a while because I had no pain or weakness in my hand but on the investigation, the Consultant classified my carpal tunnel as moderate therefore an operation was recommended. This was due to take place in August this year but I bottled it because leading up to the operation I felt my symptoms were less than they had been and I was concerned that an operation might leave me weaker through the wrists than before.
I enjoy weightlifting and did not want to lose the ability to lift weights or be as active as I had been with my physical fitness and added to this fact that the symptoms were less, I took the decision to not have the operation. Unfortunately, I had not been able to get a response from the Consultant to discuss other options and now have been discharged.
Everyone will have differing levels of symptoms and if you are experiencing severe tingling and numbness I would strongly recommend you take some form of action, probably to see your doctor if symptoms are severe because you really don’t want to lose your ability to hold things and have permanent nerve damage.
My decision not to have the operation was based on the fact that I have reduced symptoms, they’ve not completely gone, but on holiday this year I had a whole week without any irritation, so for me I feel there is room to explore whether I can strengthen and condition my wrists, reduce tension in my neck and shoulders and forearm to see if this will continue to reduce this condition.
I thought I’d run this feature over the next few weeks to see how many of us do suffer from this. What action are you taking? Is it being successful?
And then to look at some wrist/shoulder strengthening/mobilizing work to see if this helps at all.
Would love to hear from you, let’s discuss.
Next week – exercises to help wrist and shoulder mobility
Have a great week
‘Carpal tunnel’ Helen
PS – I will be live streaming on facebook – Viva Pilates Essex tomorrow Tuesday at 7.15pm about this.