Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Get a Grip Tips on How to prevent & Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

by Diana Scheible, M.A., OTR/L, CLE

As a hand therapy rehabilitation Occupational Therapist and ergonomic consultant, I thought that there was no way I could ever experience carpal tunnel symptoms. However, when I forgot or neglected to follow my own advice to patients, I would feel weakness, pain, and tingling in my fingertips. My symptoms would worsen when I would use my blackberry to text or send emails even though a computer was readily available. My thumbs began to feel the effects of repeated stress to the small joints of the hand when I would to compose sentences on the firm, minute buttons at lightening speed. Consequently, I would sometimes feel clumsy with my hands and drop things. This is when I realized that I absolutely need to take care of my own body so I can continue to help others.

Now that I am practicing in the field of lactation, I noticed how many pregnant and new mothers experience carpal tunnel symptoms. Some pregnant women report symptoms related to carpal tunnel in the second half of pregnancy when they begin to retain more fluid. If you are one of these women, try to avoid activities that require repetitive motion and that put pressure on the inner side of your wrists. Many people, myself included, have a tendency to sleep in fetal position while resting their head on their wrists. This puts pressure on the carpal tunnel and prevents circulation and nerve conduction from the arm to the fingertips. Other activities such as using the computer keyboard and mouse or supporting your baby’s head during breastfeeding can also trigger carpal tunnel symptoms because of pressure to the wrist area and when there is a sustained bend to the wrist. During activities such as these, try to be attentive to keep your wrists in a neutral (not bent) position and use available items such as rolled up burp clothes or receiving blankets to support your baby’s head and body during breastfeeding. These strategies will allow appropriate circulation to your hands rather than impinging the nerves. Some people find relief from using wrist splints at night that maintain the wrist in a neutral position. I also recommend taking frequent stretch breaks when engaging in any activity requiring repetitive motion.

I have since (for the most part) ingrained the strategies to prevent persistent carpal tunnel syndrome to the extent that I occasionally find myself waking up in an instant panic if my wrists are bent in my sleep or if I find myself asleep on them. If you have any carpal tunnel symptoms, don’t be alarmed-it can go away with conservative treatments if addressed without much delay.

Please visit the Breastfeeding Resource Library at PumpStation.com for our Carpal Tunnel Syndrome handout on additional ways to prevent, treat, and manage your symptoms.


KambingBujang said...

besides, i think repetitive hand motion during expressing the breastmilk using manual breastpump also contribute to CTS

Anonymous said...

Couple questions for any other visitors! What supplements or medication do you take for the pain? I am using a combination of Tumeric and Bromelain to manage mine but am looking for some other ideas. Also, one thing that I have found to work really well is a brace I bought from here: http://www.braceability.com/wrist-braces-wrist-supports-wrist-splints-hand-and-wrist-braces
Let me know if you have any other ideas on how to manage the pain and continue functioning normally!