Saturday, December 16

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Life After The Internet

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Now that we’re in the information technology age, everything we need is within reach. And this is all thanks to the Internet.  Work is mostly done through the Internet, facing the computer for long stretches of hours.  Even kids’ homework is done and submitted using a computer connected to the Internet.  Gone are the days when people would have to go and manually search for files in big folders stacked in shelves full of records.  Gone are the days when researching meant going to the library to research using gargantuan encyclopaedias.  People just aren’t as active as they used to be.  And it’s because of this inactivity, and the long hours of slaving away in front of computers, that a lot of people have been complaining of certain chronic pain on their wrists.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

      Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has been present even before computers were created, contrary to popular belief that CTS was brought about by the increasing use of technology.

      The carpal tunnel is a hollow tunnel formed by the carpal bones and the surrounding tissues of the wrist.  This tunnel protects the median nerve that makes your thumb, index, middle and ring fingers its feelings. And it is said that carpal tunnel syndrome starts when the median nerve gets compressed, this causes pain, a tingling sensation, and/or weakness in the forearm and hand.

      Carpal tunnel syndrome is said to be caused by a lot of factors: work, health conditions, trauma, and idiopathic reasons.

          o Work. Although still unproven, a lot of CTS cases were provoked by repetitive grasping and manipulating activities.  This  is commonly related to extensive labor that requires the repetitive use of the hand and wrist in industrial occupations
          o Health conditions.  Physical health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and certain hormonal disorders like diabetes may cause CTS.
          o Trauma.  Accidents such as fractures of one of the arm bones, or dislocation of one of the carpal bones, blunt force trauma on the wrist or lower forearm., blood clot formation inside the wrist, or deformities due to abnormal healing of old fractures may cause compression of the median nerve.
          o Idiopathic reasons.  The compression is of an unknown source.

Treatment

      Of course, consulting a physician should always be the first step to take when dealing with any kind of pain in the body.  They need to find out if the CTS is caused by any underlying physical condition that needs to be addressed right away.

      Some people with mild symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are able to relieve themselves of the pain by simply taking frequent breaks to rest their hands and arms.  Some people apply cold packs to reduce occasional swelling of the wrists.  If these quick fixes do not work, you might need to consider wrist splinting, medications and/or surgery.

          o Wrist splint.  This holds your wrist still while you sleep.  This relieves the night time symptoms of tingling and numbness.  This is most effective if you’ve only experienced mild symptoms of CTS for less than a year.
          o Medications.  Doctors usually prescribe either non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids.  One to relieve the swelling, the other to relieve the pain.
          o Surgery.  This is advised only when the nerve impairment persists after using non-surgical methods of treatment.

It is understandable that now that we’re in the computer age where everything is accessible through the internet, we don’t need to move much.  But even if technology offers us the convenience of just typing everything into the computer, we need to understand that it will affect our wrists sooner or later.  So stand up, stretch, and give your hands a rest.

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