Saturday, December 5, 2015

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome- A Workplace Hazard

Sore wrists? Tingly fingers? Little electrical sparks in wrists, arms, fingers?

Any or all of these and you may be developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).  A buildup of pressure in the wrist, it can also extend to the elbow or even the shoulder.  Carpal Tunnel used to be a problem typically found in the elderly, worn out wrists.  Today it is showing up in Generation X, the Milennials and more.  Why?  Repetitive motion of the wrist or hand.  Texting, gaming, twisting of the wrist can all contribute.  

Its not uncommon for the first symptoms to be a tingly sensation in the fingers.  Maybe it wakes you up at night.  Maybe you notice it when using your gaming control. Maybe when driving long distances or gripping something firmly. Massaging or shaking your fingers may help, temporarily.

Ignore the symptoms and it will get worse. You will feel more pain, tingling, numbness, sparking. You might start dropping things.  The good news - there are treatments and preventative measures. The sooner you take action, the less risk of permanent nerve damage or disability.  Early diagnosis is key. 

Often the first treatment will be wrist braces that you can wear at night.  When we sleep we curl our hands and wrists into odd angles as we snuggle into our favorite fetal curl. While everyone is different, I found the braces eliminated over 80% of the symptoms. 

Did you know that if you have these symptoms and they are potentially work related in Colorado you will be referred to see someone who practices Active Release Tecniques (ART) before you see a doctor.  Typically ART is performed by a specially trained provider, often a Chiropractor.  ART is so unique it has been granted a medical patent.

Who likes surgery?  If you are like me, you don't.  If I can find a good way around it I will.  On the suggestion of a great friend, I decided to try ART before undergoing the surgery route.  No down time!  Its like other chiropractic treatments. Quick and back on the road.  My first time following the ART they hooked me to an EMS machine to stimulate nerve repair. It was odd but certainly not painful. 

Your wrists may be a little tender where the doctor broke up the build-up of crunchy bits.  This goes away in a day or so and they will generally follow up with you a few days later.  Based on how your symptoms are they will repeat the ART.  Everyone is different but its common for 3-4 visits over about 3 weeks.  For most people they are back on the road. You may need a follow up treatment every few months. 

Surgery is always there as an option.  It comes with a much higher price tag, downtime and rehab time. If you are prone to keloid scarring, this can affect your outcome.

Next time - tips for preventing CTS.

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