Carpal tunnel syndrome is something we usually associate with the elderly, but many young people actually experience the syndrome without even realizing it. Actress Jessica Alba has just been diagnosed with the disease, pushing a basically harmless disease into the spotlight.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when your wrist is filled with fluid or when the tendon inside the risk thickens and squeezes an important nerve. Symptoms can include a loss of sensation in your fingers, arms, and even in your neck. Sometimes these symptoms can mimic those of a stroke, but an easy way to tell if it is carpal tunnel syndrome or not is to determine where the feeling started. If it starts in your wrist or one of your fingers, it’s carpal tunnel syndrome. If it extends further than your neck, it’s probably something else.
Carpal tunnel is especially prevalent among women, as one of the leading causes of the syndrome is an abnormal level of estrogen — meaning that pregnant women, menopausal women, and overweight women are the most likely to suffer. It is also more common in those who suffer from thyroid problems, arthritis, diabetes, or have injured their wrists before. Surprisingly, the syndrome is also more common in those who have small wrists!
The wrist tendon can also get bigger the more you use it, meaning that activities like typing, knitting, or even lifting weights can put you at a higher risk.
Most people will experience carpal tunnel more than once, though they may not realize that’s what they’re feeling. An easy way to treat a temporary bout of the condition is to take anti-inflammatory meds like aspirin or ibuprofen. Try putting warm compresses on your wrists, too. If the pain seems to be getting worse and you can’t feel your fingers at all, it’s definitely time to see a doctor.
To avoid carpal tunnel altogether, try to limit activities that use your wrists. If that just isn’t possible, try stretching your wrists out on a regular basis to keep tendons small and healthy.
By Victoria Wolk
Photo courtesy of www.ubergizmo.com