If you have wrist or hand pain and are having trouble performing everyday tasks, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, a common condition that affects the long nerve that runs through your forearm, wrist, and hand.
But soreness alone doesn’t mean you have carpal tunnel syndrome. To know for sure, you need an expert diagnosis from a specialist like Dr. Bryan King or Dr. Jeffrey Cuomo at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
We perform a thorough physical evaluation to determine whether you have the classic carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, such as grip weakness, tingling and numbness in your hands and fingers, pain and burning sensations in your hands, and pain that radiates in your forearm.
We also administer diagnostic tests, including ultrasound, to check for nerve compression; electromyography, to test the electrical discharges in your muscles; and nerve conduction studies that reveal slowed electrical impulses in your carpal tunnel.
Your treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of your condition and can range from resting and icing the area to surgical intervention. Regardless of the individualized treatment plan we develop for you, you’ll want to incorporate these tips for managing carpal tunnel syndrome at work.
1. Give your wrist a rest
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when something compresses your median nerve. It may be due to an injury, an abnormally small carpal tunnel, inflammation, or your hand and wrist position.
Whatever the cause, the best thing in all cases is to rest your wrist and allow it to heal. That may mean you need to take time off work or perform modified duties for a while.
2. Take frequent breaks
If you can’t take time away from your job, at least schedule more breaks than usual. Carpal tunnel syndrome is known as a repetitive-use injury, so proper healing requires that you stop repeating the movement that caused the problem.
Set an alarm to remind you to stop typing, assembling, building, sorting, or any other activity that strains your wrists and hands. Talk to your employer about possible accommodations for your condition.
3. Wear a brace or glove
Certain jobs have a higher risk of causing carpal tunnel syndrome than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome are greater if you work in one of these occupations:
- Truck driver
- Freight and stock mover
- Food services
- Sewing machine operator
- Housekeeping and janitorial services
- Auto mechanic
- Assembly line
If you work in one of those areas, it may be tough to rest your wrist, so we may recommend a specialized glove or brace that keeps your wrist in a neutral position. You can also wear the brace at night to keep your wrist in a healing-friendly position as you sleep.
4. Work out your wrists
While resting your wrists is key to healing, too much rest can result in stiffness and pain. Drs. King and Cuomo can give you personalized exercises and stretches that will tone your muscles, reduce inflammation, and ease the pressure on your median nerve.
You can even perform these exercises at work, gently stretching your forearms and hands to relieve tension, increase blood flow, and alleviate pain.
5. Take NSAIDs
NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs better known as Advil® (ibuprofen) and Aleve® (naproxen). Using these over-the-counter pain relievers as directed can fight the inflammation in your carpal tunnel and allow healing. They can also help you make it to the end of your workday when you have a flare-up.
While it’s not an NSAID and can’t address the swelling and irritation brought on by inflammation, Tylenol® (acetaminophen) can bring relief from pain and stiffness.
6. Come see us
There’s no reason to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. You can return to work at full capacity with the right treatment. The first step is getting an accurate diagnosis, and that’s where our specialists come in.
Most importantly, we can tailor a treatment plan that addresses your specific symptoms. We monitor your progress, offer steroid injections, and perform carpal tunnel release surgery if and when necessary.
For more information, call Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute at 205-391-4440 to request an appointment.