Reducing repetition curbs carpal tunnel
A sharp pain shoots up your wrist and your fingers are tingling. Could be carpal tunnel syndrome. "It's a very, very common problem," says Dr. Tanya Lehky of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Some are born more prone to the condition - women are at increased risk and aging plays a role - but you may still be able to do something about it.
- If pain and discomfort persists, see your primary care doctor. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel, a narrow tube of tendon and bone in the wrist.
- Osterman recommends limiting repetitive motions where the wrist is bent uncomfortably and taking frequent breaks. Experts debate whether typing contributes to carpal tunnel syndrome, but most agree assembly line work raises the risk.
- Some doctors suggest weight loss may help some, since extra pounds and fluid retention can increase swelling in tissues and pressure on the median nerve.
- Some exercise regimens such as yoga and tai chi have been shown to reduce or prevent symptoms, says Dr. A. Lee Osterman, a highly rated hand surgeon with The Philadelphia Hand Center.
- Drugs could help, and if the problem is more severe, surgery may be an option. Just don't wait to ask. "It's easier to treat it early," says Dr. Steven Sanford, a hand surgeon at highly rated Carolina Hand Center in Charlotte, N.C.