April 30th, 2012
I spend a lot of time at the computer. Odds are really good so do you. So it should not be shocking when the repetitive motions of clicking, typing, and texting takes a toll on our fingers, hands, wrists, arms, and backs. All of these are connected. We’ve been told for years that surgery is the only real way to correct the damage done by so much repetitive motion-but as I learned from a neighbor who has carpal tunnel surgery, such surgeries do not provide the promised permanent relief. As I fight against my latest and rather severe flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome (hence forth abbreviated CTS), I’ve been learning how the best medicine is far simpler than you think.
Proper nutrition. Vitamin B6 and other B Vitamin Deficiencies are linked to CTS. (See Cathy Wong’s http://altmedicine.about.com/od/carpaltunnelsyndrome/a/carpal_tunnel.htm) Angela Smyth elaborates on this in her medical guide “The Complete Home Healer” that our ability to absorb B6 is often hindered by prescription medicines, creating hidden deficiencies. Smyth advises no less than 100 milligrams of B6 daily to prevent and treat CTS.
Stretching. This seems common sense, but it’s easy to overlook. Our bodies stiffen when we don’t move around enough-such as spending 8 hours per day in an office. When you do not stretch, you build up tension in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, making them more vulnerable to injury and inflammation. Our hands and wrists in particular tend to inflame when we don’t sufficiently vary our movements. Slowly extend each arm over and around your head. Rotate your wrists and fingers into circular motions (this will hurt if your carpal tunnel is currently inflamed). Clench and unclench your fists. Want more? Try these http://www.eatonhand.com/hw/ctexercise.htm from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Remember that stretching, along with using proper hand and arm positions while using the computer, are your best prevention for developing CTS in the first place! Stretch at least once per 30 minutes! And don’t forget: remove any wrist watches–on an inflamed wrist, the extra pressure created by the band makes your injury worse!
Anti-inflamatory first aid. In CTS, your tendons and nerves in your wrist are inflamed and swollen. This swelling can be helped through old fashioned cold therapy and anti-inflammatory OTC medications such as Advil or Tylenol.http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/rehab/a/heatorcold.htm details how to properly use cold for acute injuries. Avoid over-medicating on CTS; I take a couple Advil only at bed time. Sleep is, ultimately, the best healer of your injury! Sleep as much as possible.