I’ve been a medical transcriptionist for over 10 years now, and the one thing I never anticipated encountering was the one thing that could have taken away not only my career, but my passion for creative writing too. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be mild to severe and results from constant, repetitive movement that compresses the median nerve, which is located in the wrist. This nerve allows for movement and feeling in parts of the hand.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness and pain in the hand, wrist, and forearm
- Pins and needles sensation in the hands and fingers
- Aching or cramping feeling in hand, wrist, and forearm
- Finger stiffness and reduced grip strength, making it difficult to do simple everyday hand movements like holding a utensil or hair brush.
About five years ago, I started developing all of these symptoms. As I was the main bread winner in my home, I needed a solution fast. I tried everything from over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to wrist splints, which helped to a point. I switched to an ergonomic keyboard and desk chair, which did wonders for comfort; however, because of how often I use my hands, symptoms kept getting worse.
Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
I spoke to my doctor about what was happening. She referred me to a hand surgeon and specialist in carpal tunnel syndrome. He laid out several options for me, one of which was surgery, which would release the pressure by cutting the tissue that holds the joints together. Another option was taking prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, along with daily exercises that would help stretch the muscles in my wrist and make sure the compression didn’t get worse. There was also the option of a corticosteroid injection, which is a temporary treatment that reduces swelling and treats the pain.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – A Natural Approach
I went with the natural approach. I opted for continuing with ergonomic office equipment, which the doctor highly recommended and applauded, as well as splints and daily hand exercises. I also started applying ice to my wrists at the end of the day when the pain was bad. I only needed to do this for a couple of months before the wrist stretches and exercises starting helping. I follow up once a year with the orthopedic doctor so that he can x-ray my wrists and forearms and test my strength to make sure it’s not worsening.
I was lucky. I was able to bypass surgery because I caught it early on. Many who have had these symptoms for years may actually find themselves unable to use their hands at all without serious pain, numbness, and tingling all throughout the arm and even up into the shoulder. At this point, surgery would likely be the best option. A steroid injection is, again, a temporary fix, but good for moderate cases while you decide which path to take for treatment.
If you are just starting to experience signs of carpal tunnel, don’t ignore them because they will get worse. This is a condition that will go away on its own.