What Causes Carpal Tunnel to Flare Up? A Description of the Condition
The median nerve is the cause of the pain in your wrist. Pressure on the nerve can be a result of swelling or a pinch. This nerve is quite extensive as it runs from your three fingers and thumb through the palm of your hand, through the middle of the carpal tunnel area in your wrist and up into your forearm and extends all the way to your shoulder. This nerve does not affect your pinky finger but does include your thumb, ring finger, tallest finger and pointing finger.
The carpal tunnel is a bony structure at the base of your hand that forms a tunnel-like protection for the soft parts of your wrist. The median nerve runs through the middle of this tunnel. Ligament and tendons surround the median nerve. If these soft tissues become inflamed and swell, pressure is put on this nerve and results in pain.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel
There are many symptoms are associated with this nerve. The symptoms include the following:
- You will feel discomfort or pain in your wrist.
- Your thumb and three fingers of your hand may tingle or fall asleep.
- Pain or a burning sensation may be experienced up your forearm.
- This pain may stop you from sleeping at night.
- You may experience weakness in your grip.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel to Flare Up? Risk Factors
The simple answer is anything that causes the tendons and ligaments to swell. This could be as a result of
- Overuse, especial with movements that are repeated
- Use of vibrating tools
- Pregnancy when there is fluid retention
- Forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis
- Problems with the thyroid
- Trauma due to a fall or blow in the area
- Issues with the bony structures in the area
- Cyst or tumor close by
- Overactive pituitary gland
- Certain drugs for cancer and other diseases
- Swelling or inflammation due to any other reason
These lifestyle changes focus on maintaining the health of the median nerve which runs from your fingertips to your shoulder.
- Do not grip tools or devices such as a mouse, with a firm grip. Relax the wrist.
- Keep wrist movements to a middle range. Do not overextend the wrist either up or down, except for stretching exercises.
- Try to keep your wrist straight whenever possible. Wrist splints may assist you in maintaining this position.
- Do not put pressure on your wrists during daily activities. If you use a computer, try a different seating position and an ergonomically designed keyboard.
- Keep your hands warm, especially for the cold season.
- Treat underlying health conditions.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel to Flare Up? Immediate Relief with Home Remedies
As soon as you experience any of the symptoms, you can start treatment at home. A quick response will help you to stave off any serious complications.
- Rest your hand and wrist from the activity that is causing the pain.
- Use cold compresses to relieve the swelling.
- When working, take breaks off to rest the area.
- Use a splint or brace to keep your wrist from bending.
- Take pain and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling in the area.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When you continue to feel hand pain after a month, despite your best efforts at home remedies, it is time to seek out expert medical advice from a pain treatment clinic. Your expert pain doctor in New York or pain doctor in New Jersey will discuss your overall health and review the drugs that you are currently taking. Then he or she will physically examine your hand for any redness, swelling or other abnormalities. Nerve conduction tests may be ordered. These are tests that measure the speed of your nerve impulses. If the speed is slowed, it is likely you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Your physician may also order imaging tests to determine if there is a fracture in the bones of the area that is causing the pain.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel to Flare Up? Medical Treatment
- Physical Therapy: Your well-trained physician will work with your physical therapist to define a number of exercises to strengthen your muscles and reduce inflammation in the area. Your therapist will also train you to do these exercises at home, so you can accelerate the healing process. Over time the intensity of the exercises will increase as you grow stronger. Your therapist may also massage the area or use ultrasound treatments to reduce any swelling in the area. Since lifestyle changes can be very helpful in avoiding a reoccurrence, your therapist will discuss the details about when you feel the pain and make suggestions to change the circumstances to reduce the likelihood of aggravating the situation. For example, if you are a carpenter, you can switch to use tools with a grip or wear gloves to reduce the chances of damage to the muscles and tendons. The physical therapist will have suggestions for changes at work and at home or in a sports situation. Usually, you will require several visits over a month to alleviate your pain.
- Injections: Often steroid injections reduce the inflammation and swelling in the area which also reduces the pressure on the median nerve. Often the pain does increase immediately after the injection, but within a few days, it subsides.
Botox injections have also been found to be useful.
- Underlying Medical Issues: Often carpal tunnel syndrome is a result of an underlying medical issue. By controlling the symptoms of diabetes or arthritis, there will be a positive response in the pain level you experience.
- Surgery: This surgery usually involves cutting the tissue or ligament that is pressing on the median nerve to relieve the pressure. The results are generally excellent. It can be as high as 90%. But the results depend on the age of the patient, how long the individual has waited before receiving assistance, control of other health problems and if the patient is experiencing weakness in the area.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome pain is caused by the median nerve that is under pressure. The pain may be isolated in the wrist, but it can extend further into your hand or arm.
- Many lifestyle changes can effective in reducing or eliminating the pain.
- If the symptoms are not reduced by home remedies, it is essential to seek medical help from a pain doctor in N Y or pain doctor in N J before the condition becomes worse.
- There are many nonintrusive methods at the pain treatment clinic to reduce your pain. However, surgery is also a very successful option for pain relief once all of the other methods have been tried.