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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition where there is increased pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The median nerve controls muscles and feeling in the hand. Pressure may come from overuse and swelling of ligaments in the wrist.
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling and pain. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider which medicine is right for you and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Manage your symptoms:
- Use ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain in your wrist. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on your wrist for 15 to 20 minutes every hour.
- Get physical and occupational therapy: Physical therapists will show you ways to exercise and strengthen your wrist. Occupational therapists will show you safe ways to use your wrist while you do your usual activities.
- Rest your hands: Let your hands rest for a short time between repetitive motions, such as typing. If you feel pain, stop what you are doing and gently massage your wrist and hand.
- Use a wrist splint: This keeps your wrist straight or in a slightly bent position. A wrist splint decreases pressure on the median nerve by letting your wrist rest. You may need to wear the splint for up to 8 weeks. You may need to wear your wrist splint at night.
- Evaluate your work habits: Ask about ways to modify your work to help decrease your symptoms.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- Your symptoms are worse than before.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You suddenly lose feeling and cannot move your hand.
- Your hand suddenly changes color.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.