Nov 8, 2013

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Preventative Measures for Carpal Tunnel

preventative measures for carpal tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist injuries are the most common issues associated with neuropathy.  According to the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, carpal tunnel syndrome affects approximately 3 to 6 percent of adults in the general population of the United States.   Although the underlying causes may not be determined, it is thought that repetitive movements, trauma, certain bodily diseases and pregnancy are the main sources for the syndrome.  Many professions, athletic activities and day-to-day actions can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.  We will now discuss some of the preventive measures for carpal tunnel and wrist injuries.

Lifestyle Modifications

By avoiding repetitive motions, utilizing ergonomic equipment (resting the wrists, using a raised mouse pad), taking short breaks, using adaptive or alternative keyboards for typing, and alternating job functions can aid in managing or preventing carpal tunnel.  The main cause of carpal tunnel is repetitive movements that in turn, apply pressure to the tendons surrounding the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.  When this occurs, pain, tingling and numbness associated with the disease becomes present.  Making sure to rest and take into consideration several lifestyle modifications as mentioned above will aid in reducing the risk of acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome.

Wrist Braces

Wrist braces, similar to the aPallo Wrist Brace System, are effective in reducing the chance of carpal tunnel symptoms.  Wearing a wrist brace keeps the wrist in a neutral position, releasing pressure on the median nerve in the forearm and wrist areas.  There are studies that support the use of splints or braces throughout the day and night for relief and in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Maintain a Healthy Body Overall

Staying healthy and fit is essential in preventing any disease, including that of wrist injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.  Strong bodies tend to be more resilient to stress and issues within the body, fighting off conditions that cause any complications.  Implementing a healthy diet and exercising daily will decrease your chances of obtaining any wrist injuries or issues.

Homeopathic Prevention

Homeopathic preventions are another way to naturally relieve or prevent wrist injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.  For example, homeopathic arnica is believed to control bruising and reduce swelling within the body.  This particular homeopathic preventative measure can come in a light cream that can be applied to the outside of the skin where the issues arise, or as a tablet.

Other homeopathic alternatives to medicine include the following

  • Calcarea Phosphorica: This is used to relieve any pain from nerve damage.
  • Causticum: This is a remedy for long-lasting carpal tunnel symptoms.
  • Guaiacum: Aids in relieving stiffness and burning.
  • Hypericum: Used for sharp or shooting pains in the wrist.  It is known for its soothing effects when nerves are injured.
  • Rhus Toxicodendron:  Useful for stiffness and pain
  • Ruta Graveolens: This is used for overuse of joints and irritated nerves
  • Viola Odorata: Used for pain and numbness.

Preventative Measures for Carpal Tunnel

By including any of the above-mentioned preventative measures, carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist injuries may and can be prevented.  Relaxing and stretching the hand and arm muscles will also keep the carpal tunnel open and lubricated without constricting the median nerve.  If symptoms become present or persist, be sure to contact your local health care professional to diagnose and further prevent any additional damage to the wrists.

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  • Stephanie Schneider

    This is all very interesting! Something I would like to know is if a previous wrist injury makes you more likely to get carpal tunnel. Should someone who has had a wrist injury in the past already be using these preventative measures? I broke my wrist years ago and I still wrap it sometimes when it feels weak.

    • Jerry

      I am no expert, but I read in a New York Times article that previous injury does increase your risk for carpal tunnel. I would think that taking these preventative measures could only help you out in the long run, especially since odds of getting the condition increase as you age anyway!

    • Stephanie Schneider

      Thank you so much! I do practice yoga, but there are probably some more preventative measures I can take. I work in an office and do a lot of typing, which is surely another risk factor. I will make sure to take little breaks when I can. I am so glad I stumbled upon this blog!

    • Rebecca

      Taking preventative measures for carpal tunnel can be helpful whether you are at risk or not. Carpal tunnel can affect anyone, and especially as you age, your chances of getting it are much greater. Since you said you type a lot, that right there is a sign that you should probably take preventative measures, even if you hadn’t hurt your wrist in the past. It is smart of you to take little breaks as that should substantially help! Best of luck to you!

    • Michele

      I’ve never broken a wrist, but I did break an ankle awhile back and I do experience weakness and instability from time to time.

  • Jerry

    Thanks for the helpful post on preventative measures. I am very fortunate to have a flexible schedule at my job. It helps alleviate some of the symptoms experienced from repetitive motions. I will often get up to take a walk. It clears my head and relaxes my wrists! We also have a gym so I usually spend an hour working out.

    • Michele

      Perfect example of squeezing fitness into your day.

  • Joy

    I am a teacher and I am responsible for creating lesson plans, memos, and other documents via typing on a regular basis. I have found that improving my overall health via the use of exercise and better eating habits as well as modifying certain aspects of my life have made significant changes in my life. Though I have not been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel I have felt some intense pain and inflammation that I can relate back to a lot of time spent typing. However, those methods have improved circulation and reduced inflammation.

    • Rachel B

      Thanks for sharing, Joy. I think a lot of people don’t realize how healthy diet and minor lifestyle changes can make significant changes in their lives. I wonder if the pain and inflammation you have felt are early signs of carpal tunnel. Luckily, it seems like you are on the right path to avoiding surgical intervention or worse symptoms in the future.

    • Joy

      Rachel, I do often wonder if I am experiencing some of the early signs of the condition. Whether I am or not, my ultimate goal is to prevent further damage and avoid surgery if I can. While the steps I take do not always resolve the issue of pain and discomfort, I generally do experience relief and whatever I am feeling becomes manageable or totally disappears. I know regular and long-term use of such measures will only produce better results.

    • Michele

      Love that you mentioned eating habits. They are so important for an overall healthy lifestyle.

    • Kevin C.

      My wife has been a teacher and tutor for many years. I know how painful carpal tunnel can be, The first year she did teaching she had a flare up so bad she couldn’t grip the steering wheel of the car or hardly open a door with her right hand. She lived in her brace that first semester.

  • Rachel B

    The homeopathic alternatives are very interesting to me. I looked them up, and they all look pretty affordable–under $10. This is definitely a good option to consider before moving on to steroid shots and prescriptions, and especially before considering and expensive surgery. A wrist brace also seems like a simple fix.

    • NurseEJ

      A quick word of caution on the homeopathic options: Be aware that these herbal remedies often work because they DO have medicinal properties. As such, they may have interactions with other herbs or prescription medications you take. Be sure to consult your herbalist and healthcare provider before adding new herbs to your regimen.

    • jem1997

      Good advice. Did you know that Rhus Toxicodendron is made from poison ivy or poison oak? And that if you get too much of this herb it can be very toxic? Yes, always be sure to consult your herbalist so you know the right doses to take for any herbal supplements.

    • Kellie

      Good grief. Does that mean I should not take that herb if I am allergic to poison ivy? I have horrible skin reactions and am scared to think what might happen if I ate it! Probably should be safe rather than sorry and stick with the wrist braces and over the counter ibuprofen!

    • jem1997

      LOL! No, my point really was that you should consult your herbalist and your healthcare provider BEFORE you start on any herbs or medications. This one might be fine for you to take — at the correct dosage. Just like anything else, you CAN get too much — even of good things.

    • Michele

      Affordable is always good and it’s great to consider these measures before steroid injections.

  • Isabella Vargas

    I am a college student, so the risk of carpal tunnel is great given the amount of time I spend on the computer. I mean I can easily spend 6 hours typing a paper or working on an assignment, and the sore/achy wrists that result afterwards are quite a nuisance. Preventative measures are far better than reactive measures, so I will look into these suggestions and see which ones work best for my lifestyle.

    • Reese

      Me, too, Isabella! I do not think I will do the homeopathic remedies, but I can certainly see doing the lifestyle modifications, braces and some of the nutritional changes. The hardest one for me will be resting from the keyboard at frequent intervals!

    • Michele

      College students do spend a lot of time in front of computers. I completed three degrees, I felt like I lived in front of my computer most days.

  • Michele

    Love reading about the homeopathic options!

  • Julia

    Like anything else, taking preventative measures can only benefit you. If you are at high risk for a certain injury or disease due to medical history, taking preventative measures is a very smart idea and highly recommended. Personally for me, maintaining an overall body health seems like the most important as it can benefit you in so many different areas of your life.

  • Sarah Jo Coryell

    Lifestyle modifications- ain’t that the truth? I am a professional writer so i spend a lot of time on the computer. I had bad CTS flare ups. I had to work lots of small breaks into my daily routine and I also had to start wearing wrist braces if I write for more than an hour or so at one time. It is an adjustment but is well worth it to not have the pain anymore.

    • Kevin C.

      Sometimes I think the lifestyle modifications are the hardest steps to adjust to. Learning to wear a brace is easy compared to learning to change your habits and the way you life your life day in and day out. Dieting, exercise, and healthier living are life long changes and thus are harder to follow through with- even with the promise of improved carpal tunnel symptoms.

    • Sarah Jo Coryell

      I hear ya Kevin! I got used to he brace pretty quickly but forcing myself to change my schedule and my activities was hard! It is easier to put a band-aid on than try to prevent it from happening again. Braces are great and help a lot but they do not solve the problem- just help correct it once it has already happened,.

  • T.J.

    Good information! One thing I would liked to have seen though would be some more information on the homeopathic treatments mentioned. Are those listed creams, pills, bath soaks, or some other form? Some people may respond better to one type than another and knowing if it is a cream or a pill can help them make a more informed choice about their carpal tunnel treatment options.

  • Patrick M.

    I am surprised that the percentage of people suffering from carpal tunnel is not higher than it is. I know so many people, myself included, who suffer from CTS. I would have thought those numbers would have been much higher. Maybe it is because many people self treat their CT or do not realize that is what is happening?

  • Michael H

    In my experience, balance and moderation go a long way. Eating healthy and maintaining a diverse, low impact routine of exercises have kept me healthy. I do wrist exercises at work and try to stretch my wrists as frequently as possible. I still have CTS and I still wear my braces, but when the rest of my body is feeling good, my wrists tend to feel not as bad. Or at least it’s easier to deal with the pain and discomfort when it’s isolated.

  • Fallon

    I would be very interested in hearing about anyone’s experiences with some of these homeopathic treatments. I have to admit- I have not heard of any of these things. Are they herbal ointments? It sounds like some of them are taken orally. Has anyone experienced any successes with any of these?