The fear of invasive surgical procedures is common for most people. The thought of the surgeon’s knife cutting into your flesh is unsettling, even when the existing medical evidence shows that a particular procedure is completely safe and usually very effective. One of the key solutions to this situation is to make sure you choose a medical practitioner with whom you are already familiar, or one who has a strong reputation for positive results and a reassuring bedside manner. Putting off minor surgery because of an unreasoning fear, while a normal reaction, is not healthy or wise. Physical problems do not go away all by themselves, no matter how much we ‘will’ them to subside and go away. An ailment that is initially minor in and of itself, if left to fester for too long, can develop into something much more serious — consequently leading to more serious and extensive treatment. It also increases the likelihood of a larger medical bill!
One of the more common complaints in this age of office work is carpal tunnel syndrome. It manifests itself as a numbing weakness in the hand, often accompanied by a constant tingling sensation. The cause is usually undue pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, which comes from long hours spent typing at a keyboard. To prevent this ailment you should take frequent breaks from typing on a keyboard to rest your hands. Squeezing a rubber ball for a few minutes each hour while at work is an effective method to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from becoming a painful handicap.
A dead giveaway that you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome is if your thumb and ring finger become very painful, even when resting, but your pinky finger remains pain-free. This is because a different set of nerves controls the little finger.
Although the internet is full of herbal and homeopathic remedies for conditions such as carpal tunnel vision, these treatments are a waste of time and money. This condition can only be alleviated by direct action on the median nerve. Needless to say, this kind of delicate intervention should only be done by an accredited and licensed medical practitioner. It is definitely NOT a ‘do-it-yourself’ project!
Your doctor can diagnose the problem only after ruling out other primary suspects, such as diabetes or arthritis. Sometimes pregnancy can produce symptoms that mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. Your doctor will have you do some hand and arm movements to pinpoint where the pain is most intense. He or she will probably want to run some blood tests as well.
The good news is that if caught early enough, carpal tunnel syndrome usually does not require surgical intervention. It can be treated by changing your typing habits, taking NSAIDs, and wearing a wrist splint at night. Icing your wrists several times a day is also recommended in mild cases.
But if the pain has become intolerable and crippling, minor surgery will be required. As noted above, this is where many people become skittish and try to put off the inevitable surgery. A simple procedure, called endoscopic decompression, is usually all that is needed. Under normal conditions this can be handled as an outpatient procedure. You’ll have to miss a day or two of work to let your hand have a complete rest, so try to schedule it for a weekend if possible.
If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms don’t try to ‘tough it out.’ See your doctor as soon as you can for the proper diagnosis. Your doctor will then discuss treatment option for you — either palliative treatment with ice and painkillers until the symptoms subside, or outpatient surgery. Either way, you’ll have avoided any permanent impairment to your ability to continue to use your keyboard for many years to come.