How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Identify It, and Get Relief
8 minute read
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a very painful issue that affects the hands and wrists. Nearly 4 out of every 100 people suffer from this problem, making it one of the most common nerve disorders that American adults are affected by.
Worse still, thanks to the ever-increasing use of the delicate nerves in the fingers for typing and using our phones, more and more young people are dealing with carpal tunnel. Previously, this issue was associated with older adults, but these days it can affect virtually anyone.
So, what is carpal tunnel syndrome? Well, here are the basic facts:
What Parts of the Body Does It Affect?
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrists and hands. Specifically, it can cause symptoms to appear in the middle finger, index finger, or thumb most commonly.
| Related: Is Cracking Your Knuckles Actually Bad for You? |
Sometimes people experience pain or numbness that extends up to the palm area, also affecting the wrist or the forearm.
What Are the Symptoms?
While pain and numbness are the most commonly reported symptoms, carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause other problems, including:
♦ Stiffness and difficulty moving your hands, fingers, or wrists
♦ Pain or throbbing in the fingers, hands, and forearm
♦ Unusual sensations throughout the hand and fingers, resembling sharp pains or shocks
♦ Muscle weakness in the hand, such as a weak grip
♦ Shaky hand(s)
♦ Pain in your shoulder or forearm.
♦ Sometimes throbbing or swelling may be evident
♦ A loss of sensory awareness in your hand, i.e., knowing where your hand is without looking
♦ Difficulties writing, drawing, or performing other manual tasks
When Do Symptoms Occur?
Symptoms can get worse when attempting to grip heavy objects, working with your hands for long hours, or carrying certain objects.
The work doesn’t necessarily have to be arduous for carpal tunnel to set in. You could be typing or using a phone, or even be writing with pen and paper, any of which could potentially aggravate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Do I Test for It?
There are a number of ways that doctors can test to see if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of these tests involve gripping certain objects with the hand that is affected.
Often your doctor will try to identify the points of numbness or pain specifically. For example, if all of your fingers except your pinkie finger are suffering from symptoms, that is generally a good sign that carpal tunnel syndrome is to blame.
Tapping on your palm is another quick way to check for carpal tunnel syndrome. If you notice pain when tapping on your palm, that is an indicator of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Another common symptom is loss of muscle in the thumb, which your doctor can examine by feeling for it.
There is also a test that uses an electronic device that sends electric impulses to the nerves in your hand to determine whether or not the nerves are being compressed. It’s called a “nerve conduction test,” which is the most definitive way to test for carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Are Some Risk Factors?
If you often perform repetitive movements with your lower arms or your hands at work or when you exercise regularly, this can increase your risk of carpal tunnel. Similarly, if you frequently perform movements that require an extension of your wrist and hands or flexing your hands and wrist often, this can cause carpal tunnel syndrome to set in.
Some common occupations that can increase your risk of carpal tunnel are landscapers, carpenters, cooks, people who work on a computer for long periods, fitness trainers, mechanics, and musicians.
What Is the Root Cause?
The main root cause of carpal syndrome is inflammation. Inflammation can affect everything from your joints to your muscles and even your nerves. When inflammation takes hold in your wrists and hands, it puts added strain on your nerves and can restrict your ability to perform ordinary tasks.
| Related: Why Inflammation Is at the Heart of Joint Health |
4 Steps to Carpal Tunnel Prevention
With that in mind, you might be wondering what steps you can take to prevent or treat carpal tunnel syndrome from striking. Here are 4 ways to prevent carpal tunnel that you should consider trying:
1. Relax Your Grip
If your work or your exercise requires you to grip objects frequently, try doing so with a more relaxed grip. It will put less strain on your muscles and tendons, which will relax your nerves and reduce the risk of inflammation, the main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. Stretch Regularly
Stretching your wrists and hands can relieve tension and reduce the effects of inflammation.
If you already suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, you may need to stretch as regularly as every couple of minutes if you are actively using your hands in a way that increases your risk of inflammation.
3. Watch Your Posture
Posture can affect the way that blood flows to your hands and wrists, and good posture can prevent you from putting unnecessary strain on these areas.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Supplements
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of carpal tunnel symptoms is to include anti-inflammatory foods and supplements in your diet. This includes foods like turmeric, but you’ll need to eat a high amount of turmeric on its own to get noticeable benefits.
Another good method is anti-inflammatory supplements, which contain a mixture of anti-inflammatory herbs and compounds in higher doses, so they’re more effective.
One supplement that we recommend for its high quality is 1MD’s EasyFlex. EasyFlex contains curcumin, which is what gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory properties, and it also contains boswellia and collagen, which is a powerful protein that assists in healthy joint function.
Combining a multitude of effective anti-inflammatory ingredients into a single capsule is easier for many people than tracking down the ingredients individually, so it’s a good option to consider if you’re looking to reduce your risk of carpal tunnel or alleviate the symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Carpal tunnel syndrome is affecting more and more people, so it’s important to know the facts about this issue to keep your risk low. If you work on the computer frequently, as many people do in the modern age, carpal tunnel may be especially important for you to address.
Fortunately, there are options and methods of treatment that can offer you relief from the symptoms of carpal tunnel.