Ever notice your hands feel weak and tingly after a day of typing away at the keyboard? This could be a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.
An estimated 4 to 10 million Americans have carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS. Though symptoms start gradually, such as a tingling or mild weakness in the hand and wrist, if left untreated, CTS can lead to permanent nerve damage with symptoms including permanent loss of sensation and weakening of muscles in the hand. It can also cause pain in the forearm and in severe cases cause the muscles in the palm and thumb to atrophy.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Repetitive tasks, such as typing on a computer or smartphone, driving, playing an instrument, sewing, and others are the most frequent cause of CTS. But other factors also play a role, such as:
- Prior wrist or hand injury
- Medical conditions like hypothyroidism, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Women run a 3x greater risk of developing CTS.
Preventing and Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The best way to prevent CTS is with a combination of wrist exercises, nutrition, and using ergonomically designed tools to protect your hands.
This exercise is effective to keep your hand flexible to prevent CTS or to treat symptoms.
- Raise your right hand parallel to the floor. Bend the wrist so your palm faces in and your fingers point down. Use your left hand to hold your right hand’s wrist gently. You should feel a stretch in the back of the wrist and even up the back of your forearm. Switch hands.
- Raise your right hand parallel to the floor. This time, bend the wrist so your palm faces out and fingers point up (it should look like you’re making a stop sign). With your left hand, hold the inside of your fingers and gently pull towards you. Switch and perform the same exercise on the other hand.
Inflammation is one of the main factors in CTS. Avoid or limit salt, sugar, or processed foods which can exasperate inflammation. On the other hand, foods high in antioxidants may help reduce inflammation. These include tuna, salmon, dark green or bright red veggies, and walnuts. Chicken, avocadoes, spinach, and bananas – which are high in Vitamin B6 – are also beneficial.
- Ergonomic Solutions
Ergonomic keyboards, chairs and even scissors and knives can help minimize the stress and strain on your hands and wrists. Of course, paying to attention to your posture and remembering to take regular breaks also helps.
If the condition is severe enough, a minor outpatient procedure may be necessary. But knowing the causes and the symptoms of CTS can go a long way to keep you healthy.
Another way to make sure you stay healthy is by having all the insurance benefits you should. Set up a FREE Benefits Review with a skilled ASBA representative today. Our caring agents are here to help you review options and determine the right coverage for you—whether it’s dental insurance, vision plans, or other policies. Request a FREE Benefits Review with an ASBA field agent.