Treating Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetitive stress injuries can strike anyone who performs the same motion on a regular basis. Athletes can suffer from repetitive stress injuries in their shoulders or elbows. However, even if you're not an athlete, you can still succumb to one of these injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common injury that affects people who spend a significant amount of time typing. This means it often affects people who work in an office or those who use their hands as part of their vocation, such as artists and musicians. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be incredibly painful and debilitating. If you've been diagnosed with this condition, here are four steps you can follow to treat it.

Rest your hands.

Whenever possible, you should rest your hands and wrists to avoid exacerbating your carpal tunnel. The pain caused by this condition comes from swelling inside your wrist and hands. This swelling can impinge the tendons and nerves, causing a loss of mobility and pain. In order to recover, you will have to reduce or stop the activities that are causing your discomfort. If possible, try to take some time off work to allow your body to heal. If that isn't an option, at least minimize hand- and wrist-intensive activities in your leisure time.

Take anti-inflammatory medication.

Since inflammation is the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, anything you can do to reduce the swelling inside your wrist will help you feel better. Taking over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs can help. Ibuprofen is an excellent choice. If you need more long-term relief, you may want to take naproxen instead. Consult your doctor about your NSAID usage, since long-term use may damage your stomach lining or kidneys.

Wear a wrist brace.

A stabilizing wrist brace can help you avoid movements that worsen your carpal tunnel syndrome. Many people find that sleeping with wrist braces on helps them feel better. When you sleep, you may bend your wrist in ways that cause additional pain. A brace will prevent you from worsening your condition unknowingly while you rest. Look for a wrist brace that contains a stiff metal or plastic bar which will help stabilize your hand and arm.

Have surgery.

In severe cases, surgery is your best chance for recovery. The surgery can be performed endoscopically by an orthopedic surgeon. Your surgeon will make room in your carpal tunnel by cutting through a few ligaments. This will reduce the swelling for good so you no longer have to deal with chronic pain. Plan to take some time off after this surgery, since it can take several weeks for your hands to fully heal after carpal tunnel surgery.