Alternative Remedy for Carpal Tunnel
by Jeff Anliker
Finding an alternative remedy for carpal tunnel is a tricky subject. With so many products, from vitamin concoctions to various squeeze balls, all claiming to be successful treatments for carpal tunnel, how do you know where to begin?
We do know that surgery is the last resort for helping carpal tunnel sufferers. It is for those who have tried everything else and failed. After surgery, your grip and hand function will never be the same, no matter what exercises you perform or therapy you undertake, surgery has permanently disabled a part of your hand that will never again be regained. Surgery also has a very low rate of success, considering that after 6 years, 90% of patients are experiencing symptoms again. Therefore, there is high rate of patients who undergo multiple carpal tunnel surgeries. During the first surgery, doctors cut the ligament, each surgery thereafter is to clear away scar tissue that has build up, creating the same pressure and loss of space as the ligament was doing.
Here are a few of the alternative options that seem to provide the best results and have the most clinical backing.
Creating Muscle Balance: Studies have shown that most people, even those with moderate to severe carpal tunnel, can greatly reduce or completely relieve their symptoms by performing exercises that create balance within their hand, wrist and forearm. Clinical research has proven that the overuse of the flexor muscles that close the hand, and under use of the extensor muscles, which open the hand, cause the hand to collapse in on itself, squeezing the carpal tunnel, restricting space and initiating the cycle of pain, numbing and weakness. By simply strengthening the extensor muscles that cross the finger, wrist and elbow joints, it has been found, you can control or completely alleviate your symptoms! NOTE: Squeezing and gripping devices have long been proven, time and again, to worsen carpal tunnel! Only exercise of the extensor muscles that open the hand are recommended.
Wrist Braces and Splints: For those in the earliest stages of carpal tunnel, when worn at night, a wrist brace may be enough to regain control of your carpal tunnel symptoms. Wrist braces and splints are not effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome for those with moderate or severe symptoms, but can assist when used at night. These devices are meant to keep the wrist from curling into a fist so that the wrist stays in a straight position in order to reduce impingement of the carpal tunnel. Be aware, studies have proven that wearing a wrist brace too often will further weaken the extensor muscles and worsen your carpal tunnel.
Massage: For many with mild symptoms, massage can provide the necessary relief of carpal tunnel. For those with moderate to severe carpal tunnel symptoms, massage is often very helpful, but temporary. Massaging and stretching the stronger, shorter and tighter flexor muscles helps relax and loosen the restriction around the carpal tunnel, allowing for temporary relief. Once you have had the flexor muscles massaged and stretched-out, it is recommended you follow immediately with strengthening exercises for the opposing muscles, which will ultimately hold the stretching and lengthening of the flexor muscles in place.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound tends to have its highest rate of success when used in conjunction with a treatment program that includes soft-tissue work, stretching of the flexor muscle group, and the strengthening of the extensor muscle group. Ultrasound can help reduce inflammation in an acute case of tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other forms of injury.
Always consult a physician or healthcare professional before starting any type of exercise or treatment program. Good Luck!
Jeff P. Anliker, LMT, is a Therapist and Inventor of Therapeutic Exercise Products that are utilized by Corporations, Consumers and Medical Facilities around the world. Balance Systems, Inc.
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