Recently, one of my clients came to me complaining of pain in her wrists and radiating into her fingers, which was diagnosed by her doctor as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Alice is a data entry worker and as she told me, this activity makes up most of her daily work activity. She was in a quandary. She did not want to subject her body to a short-term and potentially dangerous approach of using steroids as her doctor recommended. She wanted to get at the cause and eliminate the pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand, arm, and wrist. The name comes from the fact that there is a tunnel that is created in the arm by the tendons and bones of the wrist. It is through this tunnel that the median nerve passes and activates the fingers of the hand. This tunnel should create a very safe passageway for the median nerve. However, due to repetitive stress, which could come from many different occupations or an injury, that space becomes compromised. The resulting pressure applied to the median nerve is the culprit triggering pain.
Certain jobs that involve repeating the same motion with your arm over a long time may raise your chances of getting the condition. Often, no single cause can be identified.
The fact is, the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is not just confined to people in a few industries or jobs. Some of the careers where it is especially common are in those performing assembly line work — manufacturing, sewing, finishing, cleaning, meat cutters, cashiers, data entry personnel, massage therapists, assembly line workers, sewers or knitters, bakers, hair stylists, barbers, musicians, poultry or fish packing, and many others.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be made even worse if repeated motion causing the pain is continued, or there is prolonged exposure to vibrations from using hand or power tools.
If you are experiencing chronic pain in your hand, arm or wrist, check with your medical doctor for the proper diagnosis. If your thoughts are confirmed, the typical medical model may recommend any of the following:
Steroid injections – Corticosteroid, or cortisone that can be injected into the carpal tunnel. Although these injections often relieve painful symptoms or help calm a flare-up of symptoms, their effect is sometimes only temporary.
Surgery – This can be invasive, and not always an effective treatment for CTS. There are the benefits and potential risks involved.
Certain drugs – can relieve immediate pain, but should be viewed as a temporary solution since long-term use of them has side effects. Don’t settle for the typical medical model approach. There are many options to consider.
Alternative Possible Solutions to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
The best way to treat CTS is in its early stages. Here are some possible solutions to consider.
Avoiding positions that overextend your wrist – This simple and often overlooked approach can be extremely effective. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Treatment of any underlying conditions you may have – Underlying conditions such as diabetes or arthritis are common contributing factors to CTS.
Brace or splint – One form of treatment is the use of a brace or splint during work activities or while sleeping. This serves to restrict the movement of the wrist so as not to exacerbate the condition.
Physical Therapy – PT stretches and exercises designed to take pressure off the median nerve can be effective in and by itself or used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
Herbs -Certain herbs can help reduce the symptoms of CTS.
Acupuncture – an ancient technique of traditional Chinese medicine, has long been used to treat chronic pain.
Scenar – A device that produces a micro-current frequency that mirrors the body’s own electrical energy generated by the central nervous system. Since it mirrors the body’s own frequency it is not resisted or rejected by the body. Thus, it reduces inflammation by
activating the body’s own self-healing mechanisms.
Rolfing – This approach uses applied pressure to the connective tissue/fascial muscular wrappings along with facilitative movements. Rolfing will help resolve old postural patterns, many of which get anchored by our occupations. Can be effective in and by itself, or used in conjunction with other forms of treatment to alleviate CTS.
Carpal Solution™ – a bandage like and supportive device that is a proven therapy for CTS. It works by wrapping around the thumb and little finger, creating a stretch that opens up the Carpal Tunnel. I have found this product very effective.
Now, back to Alice. Fortunately, she found a way to manage her CTS through a combination of alternative solutions including herbs, acupuncture, and Rolfing. She is now leading a happy and productive life again.
How about you? Life is far too short for you to needlessly suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Don’t wait. Be proactive when the first signs of CTS are experienced. Seek help from the proper health practitioners. Keep looking until you find a healthy solution or combination of solutions that work for you. Remember, other people have been where you are now and have found a way. So can you.