If you’ve been suffering from the effects of mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome, chances are you’ve gone to your local herbalist for some healing tea, to a physical therapist for some hand and wrist exercises and maybe even to Chinatown insearch for an acupuncturist who’ll stick a bunch of needles in your back. Yes, CTS is that annoying and painful, you’ve probably even considered undergoing surgery to alleviate the pain, numbness and weakness in the affected area.
Although surgery is often done as a last resort and on people how have severe CTS cases, many people still choose to go under the knife because of the advances in non-invasive surgeries, like Carpal Tunnel Endoscopic Decompression wherein a small tube with a camera and surgical tools are all it takes to relieve pressure in the median nerve. You’ll be back to work in a few days and won’t even have to spend the night in the hospital.
Trick or Treatment
Even with surgery, carpal tunnel symptoms may re-appear. These symptoms vary from person to person. Some have excruciating pain, while others have no pain but have severe numbness, rendering the fingers next to useless. So, while surgery is a good option for those who think they need it, it’s not the only option around.
Aside from the carpal tunnel treatment I mentioned above, there is another way to help people with CTS symptoms: a wrist brace. Braces and splints are designed to immobilize the hand and wrist, allowing the affected area to heal faster because the pressure and compression is minimized.
According to a scientific study reported in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, wearing splints either at night only or all the time brought CTS patients significant improvement after a six week trial period. The study was conducted by William C. Walker, MD from the Medical College of Virginia, who had 17 patients suffering from various stages of CTS wear either night only splints or whole day braces for six straight weeks.
The patients in the experiment were made to answer before-and-after questionnaires regarding the state of their CTS symptoms and they also underwent before-and-after electro-diagnostic testing, wherein “delicate machinery was used to measure the speed with which the nerves sense and respond to stimulation.”
6 Weeks Later
The results of the study were astonishing and provide a ray of hope for long-time carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers. Wearing the splints either at night or all day long brought much needed improvement after six weeks of continuous use. The patients in the study who wore their braces all day long fared a little bit better, but overall, everyone’s symptoms improved, functions were restored and the nerves worked a little faster.
Patients in the study that had severe CTS symptoms reported experiencing improvements that were similar to even greater than those with moderate to mild CTS. This is awesome news for long time CTS sufferers with severe symptoms, because they can get by without undergoing expensive surgery.
Braces and splints are available as over the counter purchases or they can be custom fitted to a person’s wrist and hand. Custom fitting is better because there is less play and it immobilizes the wrist better than the commercial splints. Some are more rigid than others and most use thermoplastic as the main material.
While surgery is good solution to carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s expensive and there is a real possibility that the symptoms come back. For the budget conscious CTS sufferer, having a wrist splint custom fitted to your measurements is a sound option. It does the job, and is backed by scientific research. If it doesn’t work out, then you can always opt for elective surgery.