Fact is: Each year, more than 8 million people have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and surgeries amount to well over 230,000 annually – that’s second to the most common musculoskeletal surgery according to a 2014 study! Even in the 90s, the US Department of Labor has concluded CTS to be the “Chief Occupational Hazard of the 90s” as it has disabled workers like an epidemic.
TOP RISK FACTORS
Now in the 21st century, there’s no indication that these figures and statistics are ever going down – which can really be bad news for everyone. In fact, it has been very common in today’s society where it affects roughly 3-6% of the general population! The exact cause of CTS is not the same for all, but the injury is attributed to the following risk factors, and it pays to know these factors which make CTS so common:
- Nature of the Job – jobs involving fast, repetitive hand/wrist movements and firm grips with little rest
- Hobbies – Gamers, musicians, needlework
- Gender & Age – Aging and women are prone to higher risks
- Sleeping Habits – hands not positioned well while asleep
- Medical Conditions – health issues & medications that causes swelling in joints and arm tissues like arthritis, diabetes, obesity, etc.
- Trauma – the onset of CTS can be very quick when hands, forearms or wrists are subjected to sprain or trauma.
5 WARNING SIGNS
Have you identified yourself to be prone to the above risk factors? The next thing you would want to watch out now for are its symptoms that usually occur gradually. Listen to your body. It’s important that you pay attention to these things that aren’t normal:
1. Tingling Sensation – One of the first symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome where your hands, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers feel like it’s constantly being pricked by pins and needles.
2. Numbness – a classic symptom of CTS where one section of the median nerve is pinched or damaged causes the brain to not receive sensory signals from the hands, thus the numbing sensation. The numbness could even wake you in the middle of the night. It’s almost similar to the feeling of your hands falling asleep. When you get up in the morning, you would feel stiffness in your fingers.
People experiencing symptoms #1 & #2 usually shake their hands to relieve the sensation. The sensations come sporadically at the start but over time, it may become constant and would aggravate, leading to symptom #3 and forward
3. Painful, Aching Feeling that radiates to your arms – pain is often felt in one or both hands. In moderate cases, when the wrist/hand is pinched or compressed, there’s considerable pain that is felt. The aching feeling occasionally crawls to your forearm – the area between your elbow and wrist.
4. Weaker grip – On moderate or severe cases, the pain often causes one’s reduced grip and individual finger strength. With long-term CTS, the thumb muscles experience atrophy or weakening. Daily activities you usually do before opening jars or using screwdrivers – usually, tasks that involve fine motor skills would be very difficult to achieve when the disease strikes.
5. Accidentally Drop Things – With CTS, even simple hand movements like holding a fork or brushing one’s hair takes its toll, because of the tendency to drop objects due to the loss of pinch strength and grip strength.
Important Note: The median nerve affects only 4 fingers: the thumb, the index finger, the ring finger and the middle finger. If your pinkie finger is affected, CTS is not a probable diagnosis. Remember however that CTS warning signs manifest in a specific pattern. Daily Activities, hobbies, and hand movements play a big role in the risk of getting this disease, stressing your hand could even trigger it on!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
When you notice the early signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, don’t leave it untreated for too long! It should be treated early before the disease progresses and the damage becomes permanent. CTS Treatment can be done in a variety of ways – mostly are non-surgical, non-invasive procedures that you can do from the comfort of your home. The most important thing here for CTS is Early Detection and Cure. Conservative treatments for these conditions are recommended before going head on with surgery when diagnosed with the disease. Rest your hands after rigorous activity, avoid activities that alleviate the pain or hurt them. Treat yourself to a daily deep tissue release massage from time to time – Your Wrists and Fingers would love you for it! Therapists use a circular kneading motion on the wrist and forearm to break up adhesions around tendons. Best practices include splinting your wrist and fingers while you sleep for 4-8 weeks and positioning them in a neutral position to decrease any swelling and lessen pressure on your hand nerves.
Lastly, supplement your holistic hand care regimen as well by using Pykal Hand Power Pro – your go-to stress ball and hand exerciser in 1. Whether you’re at work, or at home watching the tv – squeeze and flex and keep those fingers stretched and pampered – your hands will thank you for the special treat!