Computer programmers and seamstresses, cheer up. That stinging pain centered on your forearms, that numbness you experience in your wrists, may not be a result of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)at all.
Yes, the CTS, more often than not, leads one straight to the surgeon. But those who work for long hours with their hands could be suffering from nothing more than a repetitive-strain injury, researchers say.
CTS happens when a nerve passing through your wrist gets pinched, usually because of arthritis, obesity, water retention due to pregnancy and so on.
In fact it is noted that there is little clinical data to prove whether repetitive and forceful movements of the hand and wrist during work or leisure activities can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Repeated motions performed in the course of normal work or other daily activities can result in repetitive motion disorders such as bursitis and tendonitis.
Persistent pressure in the fingers, wrist, or forearm may not be a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome, merely a train resulting from repetitive motions.
So what does one do in the case of an 'overuse injury?' Surgery won't fix the problem, in fact. Instead some over-the-counter medicine to relieve the pain could be tried and one's hands must be given rest regularly.
One could also stay off the computer or limit use to 20-minute sessions with 10-minute breaks, for example.
Care should be taken to ensure that wrists are level. Splints could be worn for the purpose. Also the keyboard and mouse must be kept below the elbows.
In carpal tunnel syndrome, one experiences numbness and tingling on the palm side of the fingers and pain may shoot up the arm when stretching the wrists.
Also pain might prevent us from having a good sleep and we would have trouble making a fist. Certainly we would lose co-ordination of our fingers.
But in the case of repetitive strain injury, numbness and tingling appear over the back of the hand, if at all and the pain is dull, usually in your forearms.
One may find it difficult to lift heavy objects because one's hands feel very tired and it would hurt the worst after the activity that caused the injury.