Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common repetitive stress injuries afflicting the workforce. It affects around four per cent of working adults each year and the injury can not only cause discomfort and pain, but can limit mobility and severely hamper productivity. There are a number of treatment strategies, including the use of a wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome. As mentioned below, the use of a carpal tunnel wrist brace may reduce the likelihood of more invasive approaches later on.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow, rigid passageway located on the underside of the wrist that houses the median nerve and various tendons. When the median nerve becomes compressed it results in the symptoms of carpal tunnel.
There are numerous causes of carpal tunnel, such as improper hand positioning while typing, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause/pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, wrist trauma/injury, work stress, and repeated hand and/or wrist movements. However, the most prevalent causes for carpal tunnel are gender and genetics; some people are genetically predisposed to smaller carpal tunnels, and women are more likely to have smaller carpal tunnels than men. Smaller carpal tunnels make it more likely for the median nerve to become compressed, resulting in carpal tunnel.
There are numerous options to provide carpal tunnel relief and treatment.The American Academy of Neurology recommends the use of non invasive strategies, such as the use of a carpal tunnel wrist brace, in the early stages of the condition.
Wearing a Wrist Brace For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Most doctors recommend a carpal tunnel splint or brace to help relieve hand and wrist pain. The key to an effective wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome is proper support, which keeps the wrist joint immobile. The natural resting position for your wrist is actually bent slightly backward, in a thirty degree angle. A good carpal tunnel wrist brace should comfortably maintain your wrist in that position, which takes the pressure off the median nerve. A patient will normally wear a carpal tunnel wrist brace at night as this is when the wrist is most at risk of being in a vulnerable position. A wrist splint keeps your wrists straight, avoiding pressure on your nerve.
Using Athletic Tape and Compression Wraps
Carpal tunnel wrist wraps offer support similar to a wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome, but also provide some flexibility for your wrist as well. Compression wraps and athletic tape help the wrist stay in a natural, healthy position and are most effective for individuals who work jobs with repetitive hand and wrist motion, such as typing or assembly line roles. Once again, these supports reduce the pressure on the median nerve, allowing the wrist to be free of inflammation and pain.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy can provide pain relief and reduce swelling. Some carpal tunnel wrist supports provide both reinforcement and hot/cold therapy. Heat therapy in particular works well because the heat reacts with the water molecules in the body to increase blood circulation and helps soft tissues heal faster. This helps reduce inflammation and pain associated with carpal tunnel. Keeping your hands and wrist warm also goes a long way to preventing carpal tunnel and managing its symptoms in the early stages of the disorder.
Other carpal tunnel pain relief treatments include massage therapy, ultrasound therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. One study even found that people with carpal tunnel syndrome who did yoga twice a week for eight weeks had a more significant reduction in pain. Some carpal tunnel sufferers find it useful to retrain their bodies to move in ways less likely to aggravate the median nerve as well as regularly stretching their wrist and hands.
In special circumstances, medicinal drugs can ease the pain and swelling associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers, may provide some short-term relief from discomfort. However, there is no evidence so far that these drugs are effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome itself. Patients with mild or intermittent symptons can also use prescription medicines such as corticosteroids or the drug lidocaine to relieve pressure on the median nerve.