How to Avoid Carpal Tunnel Surgery

How to Avoid Carpal Tunnel Surgery

When the median nerve in your forearm or wrist becomes inflamed, it leads to a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. This disorder causes pain in your wrist and hand, along with other uncomfortable symptoms. 

If you’re not careful or not aware of the problem in time, the damage can worsen to where you need surgery to fix it. Before surgery, however, you might have other options to lessen the pressure on your nerve that causes carpal tunnel syndrome.

At Mehling Orthopedics, our team offers tips to keep carpal tunnel surgery out of your future. Our orthopedic specialists, Dr. Brian Mehling and Dr. Pavel Yufit, are experts in many conditions, including problems with your hand and wrist.

Who is at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a problem that affects your hand and wrist. It leads to uncomfortable symptoms in every finger except for your pinky finger. The condition is caused by pressure on the median nerve in a narrow passageway in your wrist, known as the carpal tunnel.

Any kind of inflammation or swelling in tissue can cause excessive pressure on the median nerve, which leads to damage and pain. There are a number of risk factors for this condition, including:

Genetics

If someone in your family had carpal tunnel issues, you’re much more likely to suffer from it too. Genetic predisposition may include a smaller carpal tunnel. 

Wrist position

Do you notice that your wrists are flexed or extended past neutral for a large part of your day? If so, you’re at a much higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome due to the increased pressure on your nerve.

Repetitive wrist use

Repetitive motions in your wrist often lead to tendon damage. When the tendons are hurt, inflammation occurs naturally. The natural inflammation leaves the nerve under duress, leading to the uncomfortable symptoms.

Certain health conditions

Medical problems like diabetes and arthritis increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel problems.

Pregnancy also puts you at risk for developing carpal tunnel. The fluctuation in your hormones leads to inflammation, which adds pressure on the median nerve.

Is surgery the answer?

Surgery is only the answer when you have severe carpal tunnel symptoms. Initially, Dr. Mehling and Dr. Yufit suggest conservative measures to relieve any symptoms or discomfort.

In some cases, conservative measures are enough to relieve inflammation on the nerve and keep your condition from getting worse. Changing your lifestyle to accommodate better practices for your wrists goes a long way.

However, if you’ve tried several at-home treatments, or you have severe damage to your median nerve, our team recommends more invasive treatments options, such as carpal tunnel surgery.

Alternatives to having carpal tunnel surgery

If you don’t need surgery for your carpal tunnel symptoms or want to try other options first, our team offers these recommendations to ease your hand and wrist pain:

Wrist splints

Wrist splints are a great way to keep your wrist in a neutral position. This helps keep the excess force off of your nerve, so you get pain relief. You can wear the splints at any time, but definitely wear them at night. This prevents accidental flexion or extension while you sleep.

Pain relievers

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications help if you have mild to moderate carpal tunnel symptoms. The medications not only help you get rid of pain, but also decrease swelling and inflammation around your median nerve.

Change your wrist position

If you do a lot of sitting and typing, finding a neutral position for your wrists helps to lessen the duress. Make sure your keyboard and chair are at the appropriate height to achieve this.

Take breaks

If you’re performing tasks that require excessive use of your hands and wrists, make sure to take plenty of breaks. During these pauses, stretch your wrists and wiggle your fingers to increase blood flow and reduce symptoms.

Stretch

Wrist stretches give short-term pain relief and allow you to remove excess pressure on the nerve. You can do these stretches just about anywhere, and they take only a few minutes.

If these methods aren’t enough to relieve your symptoms, the team at Mehling Orthopedics suggests corticosteroid injections. These injections help relieve swelling and inflammation around the tendons in your wrist, freeing the nerve.

If you’d like to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, call one of our offices in Hackensack, New Jersey, or West Islip, New York, to schedule a consultation today. You can also send the doctors a message on our website.

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