I type for a living. Every day, I’m out there typing thousands of words. So I’m wondering: is that what’s causing my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? To be fair, I’m not entirely convinced I even have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I have not been in to see a doctor about it.
Finding the Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
But I know the symptoms pretty well. I’ve got tingling in my right hand—sometimes. It’s usually in my middle or index finger. Sometimes there’s pain, but not too often. Of course, it could be something other than Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In many cases, a medical professional’s opinion is required to diagnose this properly.
But if it is Carpal Tunnel, what’s causing it? And how can I get my pain and discomfort to go away?
Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel
On a physiological level, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome manifests because the nerves in your hand are compressed by the Carpal Tunnel (a small tunnel in the wrist through which those nerves travel and the namesake of this particular ailment). This can occur due to issues with tendons or ligaments.
But when we ask about causes, we’re really questioning behavior. We really mean: what am I doing that is causing the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? The most commonly held belief is that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by repetitive motion. In most cases, that translates into typing or other so-called “white collar work.”
While Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is widely associated with professional workers, there is not enough research evidence into the causes to draw definitive conclusions. In other words, it’s completely possible that repetitive motion, such as typing, causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome—but the evidence to support that is currently anecdotal.
What Can I Do to Relieve Symptoms?
If you’re currently suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (like I seem to be), there are a couple of things you can do:
- Find a way to change your routine so you aren’t using your hand quite so much. This could mean using a tablet instead of a mouse or using an ergonomic keyword—or even changing the way you sit.
- Using ice packs can help mitigate some of the inflammation and, therefore, diminish some of the symptoms.
- Resting your hand can also cause the symptoms to mitigate somewhat
- Using a brace or splint while employing your hand can also help to support ligaments and tendons and, therefore, diminish inflammation
In other words, changing your behavior can often have a significant impact on whether or not your symptoms go away. That said, some people are simply predisposed (genetically or otherwise) to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and definitely need to seek out medical options.
How You Can Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
According to the website of Houston area hand surgeon Dr. Charles Polsen, there are definitely ways to treat your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Not all of them sound particularly appealing to me (surgery is low on my list of things I’d like to do). However, many of these treatments are going to sound awfully familiar.
Here are some of the things we can do to control our Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Disengage from the repetitive motions that are causing the pain in the first place. This might mean finding a different way to accomplish your work. (And this assumes that it’s the repetitive motions—or the typing—that is causing your pain anyway.)
- Do your work in a more ergonomically responsible way. They make all kinds of products that are supposed to alleviate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms while you work. It might be worth trying one or two.
- Over the counter pain relievers can often help mask the painful symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, this is not a good long term solution, as these over the counter pills often have their own downsides over the long haul. Be sure to follow the directions for each of these drugs as written.
- Surgery: Perhaps the only permanent and effective way to “cure” Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is with surgery. It’s not my favorite option. Like I said, I have something of a personal aversion to surgery. But these new procedures are minimally invasive and you tend to recovery quite quickly. For many, surgery is simply going to be the best option available.
Get Yourself Some Relief
Whether you’re thinking about surgery or not, it’s important to get yourself some relief from your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You may know what’s causing your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and you may not. If you do, great—but knowing the cause isn’t the same thing as being able to treat your symptoms.
Instead, it’s important to seek out medical care. I’ve got a tingling sensation in my fingers, so that’s essentially what I should do as well.