If you have noticed pain in your hands, wrists, arms or even neck recently, you could have carpal tunnel syndrome. OrthoInfo.com warns that thousands of Americans suffer from this exceedingly painful condition.

If your job requires you to perform repetitive hand motions such as typing, hammering, etc., these constant movements eventually cause you pain that will only get worse as time passes.

Wrist anatomy

Each of your wrists contains a carpal tunnel that gives carpal tunnel syndrome its name. These small, narrow tunnels serve as the passageways through which the nerves, tendons and ligaments of your fingers and hands travel to reach your arms. Your carpal tunnels are not only narrow, their walls, floors and ceilings consist of bones and tendons that possess little, if any, “give.”

When you perform repetitive hand motions on a daily basis, your carpal tunnels’ synovial tissues ultimately swell. This, in turn, deprives your flexor tendons of the lubrication they need to move smoothly. The result? Pressure on your medial nerves that causes the pain you feel.

Carpal tunnel treatment

The unfortunate thing about carpal tunnel syndrome is that once it begins, it continues to progress and you really cannot stop the progression. You can, however, delay it by wearing wrist splints or, in the case of a keyboard, switching to an ergonomic one.

Your doctor undoubtedly will want to do a complete examination of your hands, fingers and wrists to assess the amount of damage they have already sustained. (S)he may also wish to take x-rays and conduct tests such as an EMG, ultrasound, MRI, etc. (S)he likely will then recommend that you take an NSAID such as ibuprofen or naproxen to help relieve your pain. (S)he may also recommend steroid injections and/or nerve-gliding exercises. Ultimately, however, surgery will become your only option.