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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
By Kellie Prather Robinson

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Do you experience numbness or tingling in your hands, especially at night - or while driving or reading a book? This may be caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You may experience problems with coordination, and also begin dropping things. You may feel pain in the hands and the fingers that can shoot up towards the shoulder. Usually the pinky finger is not affected. These symptoms are caused by compression of the median nerve that travels from the forearm into the hand through the carpal tunnel. Sometimes the tendons may swell and compress the nerve. This causes pain, numbness and/or tingling.

What are the causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may be caused by repetitive activity. This would include typing and other repetitive movements, such as sanding your clay! There are other conditions that can cause CTS. These include arthritis, hormonal changes, menopause, diabetes, pregnancy, fracture of the wrist and hypothyroidism.

How do you know if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Your doctor will want to perform some test to determine how much pressure is on the median nerve. These test will likely include a nerve conduction study and an EMG (electromyography).

What is the treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Mild cases can sometimes be treated with wrist braces, worn especially at night. And your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. If this does not work, the doctor might consider a cortisone injection into the carpal tunnel. The cortisone can help decrease the swelling of the nerves and tendons. Another option may be physical therapy. As a last resort, a surgical procedure may be needed. This is called Carpal Tunnel Release surgery. Surgery is usually not called for unless muscle wasting or nerve damage has developed.

Possible Complications if Left Untreated?

You may develop permanent numbness or paralysis of your fingers and hands.

Links:
A Patients Guide to Cumulative Trauma Disorders:
http://www.sechrest.com/mmg/reflib/ctd/cts/cts.html

The Carpal Tunnel Information Page:
http://www.carpal-tunnel.com/index.htm

CARPAL TUNNEL TIPS

from Bon Palmire

Tips: "I was involved in Medicine for thirty years, the last ten as an FNP/PA. I would tell my patients to set an alarm and work no longer than 1 hr. then take a short break. If pain occurs stop immediately and ice for 15 minutes. Then try again. Keep the hard work time short with 15 min. ice breaks between. This is NOT an injury where the adage 'no pain, no gain', has a place. Wrist braces can be very helpful, as well as anti-inflammatories if you can take them esp. if you take them before you start claying. Again ICE, ICE, ICE!"
from Skythia Haven

Tips: "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression on the the median nerve due to prolong typing, computer gaming and writing. You can check more information on this site and read more articles on our experts advice. http://carpaltunnelhq.com."
from Susi Messenger

Tips: "Vitamin B6 is fantastic for cure and prevention of any repetitive injury. I have been using it for the last 20 years when my first injury happened from ceramic making and pain only came back if I stopped taking it!"
from Amanda

Tips: "I don't have carpal tunnel but I do have osteoarthritis in my wrists and tendonitis in my feet and I have found that the best pain relievers are a cream called Celadrin or Lakota roller gel for arthritis (both found in natural health stores). I live in Canada and am not sure if they are available stateside, but I have found them to be immediately effective (within 10 minutes I felt relief) and much better than any anti-inflammitory and I have heard people with carpal tunnel say the same thing. The celadrin is also available in capsules for preventative measures. I actually got into clay partially as a creative means of physiotherapy to strengthen my wrists (I'm only 20 for crying out loud!) and it has helped much with flexibility (not to mention it's sooo fun!), however as Marcella pointed out, it is very important to rest if it starts to hurt."
from Mona Kissel

Tips: "My carpal tunnel, combined with arthritis, reared its ugly head this spring. I received four lidocane injections from my osteopath, over a four week period, which removed all the pain immediately. He also recommended regular wrist adjustments by my chiropractor, and regular wrist and hand massage.
I also began taking 200 mg of Vitamin B-6 to heal the nerves. I was advised that the healing can take about three months. I continue to take the Vitamin B-6, since it works! Have not needed further lidocane injections, but will not hesitate to return to my osteopath if needed in the future. These things have worked wonders for me and I am thrilled to be able to treat this in a non-invasive manner.
Sleeping with my hands flat and not curled and narled up also helps. I occasionally use wrist braces, purchased from Walmart for very little money."
from Jeanna Carroll

Tips: "Give your hands a rest and use a heating pad of some sort and your feet to condition your clay. Steer clear of Fimo Classic unless you're just hooked! Sculpey III will be the easiest on your hands but to some is too soft to form well, Premo is pretty much the best of both worlds. "
from Bev Kennedy

Tips: "I have been a typist for 43 years and for the last 15-20 years have been taking 200 mg/day of Vitamin B6. I have only felt the pain of carpal tunnel whenever I haven't take the B6 for awhile. I'm a believer -- Vitamin B6 for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! "
from Marcella

Tips: "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis are an accumulated trauma, which means that once it's discovered, if you keep exposing yourself to the trauma (or what's caused the injury), the damage will continue to accumulate until it's stopped. It's good to just give your body a rest. If you feel pain, it's your body saying that you need to take a break."
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