If you see someone wearing a wrist splint, it's likely due to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Many attribute the rise of CTS to poor computer ergonomics or uncomfortable body positioning for long hours.
Symptoms include hand weakness, numbness and/or tingling of thumb and fingers except the little finger, and pain from the wrist area throughout the palm side of your forearm.
The carpal tunnel is a tube bound by bones and ligaments in the wrist area on the palm side of the hand. It is roughly the diameter of the thumb, and it houses and channels the median nerve, veins, and tendons for hand and finger mobility.
Whether by physical forces or injury compressing the carpal tunnel or by internal neurological inflammation or damage, CTS amounts to a pinched median nerve, blood vessel, or tendon damage in the carpal tunnel.
Although similar symptoms to CTS may arise from different types of work with arms and hands poorly positioned, if those symptoms dissipate quickly and easily it's probably not CTS, at least it's not serious.
Simply taking breaks, and shaking your arms and hands, then re-positioning your hands, arms, and general posture better should keep you from needing medical intervention.
But if the symptoms persist away from the job or after long hours of typing, you should seek medical attention.
Conventional modalities of medical attention
Conventional medicine offers adjustable splints that can be taken off and on at will. Many CTS sufferers wear them during work, but wearing the splint during sleep is also recommended.
Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually recommended. Some have to be prescribed while others can be purchased over the counter (OTC). These only relieve pain with side effects. Sometimes cortisone injections are used to relieve the pressure from swelling on the median nerve.
If these don't help enough, surgery is used. Endoscopic surgery, involving a narrow tube inserted into small incisions, is the least invasive. It's sometimes used for injured knees. Open surgery, as the name implies, is the most invasive, requiring more anesthesia.
Acupuncture - A non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical CTS intervention
Acupuncture, which works on the energy (chi) distribution along the body's mapped out meridians, has been used for centuries for both optimizing good health and reversing bad health, acute or chronic.
Lately, acupuncture has been used successfully for healing maladies from sports injuries. A dramatic example occurred just before the Super Bowl in 1986 when Chicago Bears controversial quarterback Jim McMahon underwent acupuncture treatments for a severely bruised back that wasn't responding to conventional treatment.
After his acupuncture treatments, Jim said he felt 200 percent better, and he and the Bears blew out the Patriots in that Super Bowl. This news event raised eyebrows among classic medical skeptics, spiking acupuncture's burgeoning public acceptance in America.
A recent acupuncture for CTS study by an Iranian university's neurological department was published in January 2012's Journal of Research in Medical Sciences as "Acupuncture in treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial study."
64 sufferers of moderate CTS were divided into a control group receiving vitamins B1 and B6 with fake acupuncture. The other group received two acupuncture treatments weekly over a four week period and wore wrist splints nightly.
Guess which group tested better neurologically and had lower GSS (global symptom scores) reported for pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness. Yep, the acupuncture guys, of course.
The researchers concluded: "Our findings indicated that the acupuncture can improve the overall subjective symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and could be adopted in comprehensive care programs of these patients."
The complete study report is available in the sources below.
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