Finding carpal tunnel relief isn’t just a personal matter; it’s an economic issue. Not only does carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) lead to sore wrists and hands and sudden, sharp shots of pain up the forearm, it also tanks productivity at work and – because of difficulties grasping and holding – increases the risk of dropping heavy objects. In fact, The U.S. Department of Labor says it’s the cause of nearly half of all missed work time. Fortunately, some simple carpal tunnel exercises can help.
“There are numerous causes of CTS, however, and several conditions imitate it,” says Eric Matteson, MD, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Causes range from injuries or arthritis to chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypothyroidism to temporary conditions, such as pregnancy. So how can you tell if you’re developing it?
At first, you may feel your fingers and hands are weak, numb, tingling or burning. That’s when you need to start treating the symptoms to keep CTS from progressing and becoming a debilitating problem that requires surgery.
What you can do: “If you have hand or wrist pain and numbness, see your doctor to find out the true cause and evaluate treatment options,” says Dr. Matteson. If it turns out CTS is the likely cause, your doctor may have you wear a splint, take regular breaks to rest your hand, give you a shot of cortisone in the wrist, or advise you to use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to relieve the swelling and pain.