If you’ve experienced pain resulting from carpal tunnel, you’re likely looking for relief. Treatment for carpal tunnel can range from hand and wrist exercises to surgery—but will carpal tunnel go away on its own?
In this article, we address the symptoms of carpal tunnel as well as viable treatment options for carpal tunnel relief.
What Does Carpal Tunnel Feel Like?
Wondering if you’ve got carpal tunnel? Diagnosis is the important first steps towards managing your symptoms and healing. The symptoms of carpal tunnel include:
· A sensation that your fingers are swollen when they do not appear to be
· Pins and needles spanning from the forearm up to the shoulder
· Waves of “shock” that come sporadically in thumb and fingers
· Tingling, numbness, or burning sensations in the thumb, fingers, and forearm
It’s important to keep in mind the onset of carpal tunnel is gradual, and it may take weeks for your symptoms to present. Typically, feelings of numbness or tingling come and go, gradually becoming more common and painful.
Other Conditions That Feel Like Carpal Tunnel
Just because you’re experiencing discomfort in your wrists, forearms, and fingers does not mean you have carpal tunnel! In fact, there are several medical conditions that may garner similar symptoms. Here are some other ailments that may be the source of your pain rather than carpal tunnel:
· Nerve damage or neuropathy
· De Quervain tenosynovitis
· C6-7 cervical root compression of the spine
· A wrist injury, such as a sprain
As with any medical condition, it’s crucial to seek medical care from a licensed professional so you know how to treat the symptoms. (Looking for a carpal tunnel specialist? Click the link to learn more!)
Will Carpal Tunnel Go Away On Its Own?
It can be tempting to hope that your pain will subside if you simply take it easy for a few days; but will carpal tunnel symptoms go away on their own?
Unfortunately, once you have begun to experience carpal tunnel symptoms, it is best to seek treatment from a qualified professional. Carpal tunnel symptoms may go away for a while after a few days of rest, but they are likely to come back as soon as your normal activity resumes.
How Do You Treat Carpal Tunnel?
Because carpal tunnel symptoms are exacerbated by repetitive motions or the use of your hands, it’s best to take frequent breaks during the day to prevent worsening pain. Another simple solution for immediate carpal tunnel relief is to apply cold packs to the forearm and wrist to reduce inflammation and pain. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can also help to manage pain and swelling.
Here are some of the other common approaches to healing carpal tunnel:
1. Physical Therapy: For those with mild symptoms or a desire to seek non-invasive treatments, repeated use of stretches and wrist exercises, coupled with the cessation of overactivity, can be a viable solution for managing pain.
2. Wrist Splints: Even if you opt to exclusively wear a splint during sleeping hours, splinting can reduce symptoms of numbness and tingling. This approach is popular as it is non-invasive and brings real relief.
3. Corticosteroid Injections: For some, splinting and physical therapy are not enough. For these people, regular cortisone injections may relieve symptoms of inflammation and pain on the median nerve in the wrist. This is an option for those who need more relief but don’t want surgery.
4. Carpal Tunnel Release: This is the final, and most invasive, form of carpal tunnel treatment. It requires surgery to cut the ligament which is putting pressure on the median nerve. After the procedure, the patient will participate in 4-6 weeks of physical therapy to get back on track.
If you experience symptoms of carpal tunnel, you don’t have to live in pain. While we know that carpal tunnel will not simply go away without a change in the patient’s behavior, we also know that there is an array of approaches to mitigating the symptoms of this painful condition.
If you’re interested in talking to a carpal tunnel specialist about your next steps to recovery, click the link to learn more!