Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not a new term to many of us. It is commonly thought of as a condition seen in those working on computers or with their hands, but what many people are now realizing is that the computer set up that you spend most of your time on can play a big role in carpal tunnel syndrome. In this new age of self-isolation, quarantine, and work from home, we are all needing to navigate brand new experiences together. Many of us are now spending much of our days working from our home office, or more likely from our laptops sitting on the couch or at the kitchen table. As nice as it is to do Zoom meetings wearing pajama bottoms and slippers, hands that are numb and painful are not fun.
What is The Carpal Tunnel?
We have three nerves that supply both feeling and movement in our hand: the ulnar nerve, the radial nerve, and the median nerve. The median nerve enters that hand via a tunnel in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a region on the palm side of the wrist that contains 9 tendons that flex the fingers and the median nerve. The median nerve provides the sensation to the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. This nerve also gives movement to many of the muscles in the thumb, allowing us to properly use our thumb to manipulate small objects or perform daily tasks such as doing buttons, typing, or picking up coins.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the blood flow to the median nerve is restricted, either due to swelling, changes in positions of the wrist, or injury. Because of this lack of blood flow, the nerve can’t fire as quickly as it normally would and a person starts to experience either pain, weakness, or most commonly; loss of sensation. People often wake up in the middle of the night with hands that feel like they have fallen asleep and need to shake them to wake them up again. Or they describe pain or numbness when working on the computer or in the yard. These symptoms may become longer lasting and at some point, a person could have constant numbness in their hands.
How can therapy help me?
There are several treatments that can help to bring the blood flow back to the nerve and resolve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. If you go to see a hand therapist, they can perform manual techniques to help improve the blood flow to the nerve and teach you ways to perform your daily tasks without restricting blood flow to your median nerve. Of course, in this time of shelter at home that is not possible for many of us. With telehealth, your therapist will be able to teach you how to do some of these techniques for yourself. Your therapist will also be able to look at your work from home set up to adjust and decrease the stress on the median nerve and can even recommend the use of a brace or splint at nighttime to stop the wrist from bending. Exercises that help to improve strength and sensation can assist in returning normal use of your hand.
If you suspect that you may be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome or worry that your work from home set up may be contributing to hand or wrist pain, now is the time to get some treatment. Call us today, (520)488-5291, to set up an in-person evaluation or at home telehealth evaluation. We can work with you to set up your home desk or guide you in exercises to help get you back to your best self!