Catch Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Early

It could ease pain and prevent permanent damage, experts say

MONDAY, May 31, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If you feel pain and tingling in your hands, it could be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Early diagnosis and treatment of this problem can help relieve the pain and numbness and prevent permanent damage, says an article in the May issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a large nerve in the hand becomes compressed. Women are three times more likely than men to develop the condition. It's not understood why carpal tunnel syndrome is more common among women.

Protecting your hands may help ease the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and prevent further injury. Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers the following precautions:

  • Ease up on your hands. Many people use more force than necessary to perform hand tasks. Type lightly. Use a big pen with free-flowing ink when you have to write for long periods of time so that you don't have to grip the pen as tightly or press as hard.
  • Take breaks every 15 to 20 minutes to stretch or move your hands. These breaks are especially important if you use equipment that vibrates or requires force.
  • Avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down.
  • Maintain good posture. Poor posture can cause your shoulders to roll forward, shortening your neck and shoulder muscles, compressing nerves in your neck, and affecting your wrists, fingers and hands.
  • Make sure to keep your hands warm. If they're cold, you're more likely to develop hand pain and stiffness.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about carpal tunnel syndrome.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, May 2004
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