STUDIO GRAND OUEST/Shutterstock The most common carpal tunnel treatments involve immobilizing the affected area so the repetitive movements stop, or surgically opening up the area to relieve pressure. However, a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy suggests physical therapy may work just as well as surgery. The study followed 100 women from Madrid with the condition, half of whom were treated with physical therapy and half underwent surgery. Researchers found that physical therapy (in particular an approach called manual therapy) improved hand and wrist function and reduced pain as effectively as a standard operation for the condition. Moreover, after one month, the patients who had physical therapy reported better results than those who had surgery.
Treating with cold and vibration
tam odin/Shutterstock You’ve probably heard about icing the inflamed area for carpal tunnel treatment, but Baxter warns that this stiffens muscles and tendons and slows the blood flow. Try massaging the area following icing to stimulate the flow of blood, Dr. Baxter. The massage “keeps the muscle fibers supple,” he says, “so the re-injury damage of moving fibers that are trying to stick together to decrease movement is minimized and ice is more tolerable.” These everyday movements are causing you joint pain.
g stockstudio/Shutterstock The simplest carpal tunnel treatment is to rest your fingers, hand, and wrist. Stop activities that you think may be causing numbness and pain. When symptoms improve, the activity can be resumed gradually. Houston Methodist orthopedic surgeon Shari Liberman, MD, suggests that patients evaluate their home and work space ergonomics to identify issues that could be contributing to their symptoms. “Changes at the office that might help relieve symptoms include switching to an ergonomic keyboard or mouse, changing the position of keyboard and mouse to allow the wrists to be a neutral position, or using a padded rest for the wrist,” she says. “At home, patients could take breaks from repetitive tasks to stretch and move their hands and wrists.”