Top 10 alternatives to Carpal Tunnel Surgery and / or Cubital Tunnel Surgery. Remember surgery isn’t a quick fix, it comes with several months (if not years) of physical therapy, possible conflicts, create worse problems and or permanent damage. Granted situations vary, but I probably have more issues post surgery and wish I had known about these alternatives to Carpal Tunnel Surgery earlier.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a medical professional, these are my opinions from my own personal experiences.
- Soft Tissue Therapy/Deep Tissue Massage
Soft tissue therapy (STT) is the evaluation, therapy and management of soft tissue pain and injury of the neuromusculoskeletal system. Licensed health care professionals who can assist with this are generally occupational, massage and physical therapists, and some Chiropractic specialists. For me personally this has been a huge help. I wish I had known about this before I had surgery . This can be a huge help for any type of (RSI) Repetitive strain injury.
Consult with a Chiropractor that specializes in RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. Some people have found relief from this.
- Physical Therapy
Frequently, when diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome you will be referred to a physical therapist. Therapy will likely include, Gliding exercises, Graston Technique/Manual Therapy, Motion Therapy, Stretching, Use of a C-Trac (Hand traction device), Resistance band (light strengthening exercises) and / or Ultrasound to reduce pain and numbness.
Due to the fact that the median nerve originates from the neck, it is important that you are thoroughly assessed to determine that the symptoms are not coming from a compressed (pinched nerve) in the neck, shoulder, or forearm prior to starting therapy so they can focus on the target area(s).
Posture has a huge impact on CTS, not just the position of the wrists, but the back, head and shoulders as well. Issues with the median nerve in your wrist can begin due to compression problems with your shoulders, neck or back. Yogis also believe that breathing is also an issue, most CTS suffers tend to have constructed breathing. Yoga has so many positive benefits, it can’t hurt to check it out.
I personally have not tried acupuncture (yet). However, in a trial study it was found that acupuncture can improve the overall subjective symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- TENS unit
A TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical muscle stimulation) has been shown to ease the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Transcutaneous means “across the skin”. In basic terms, a tens machine stimulates your nerves via an electrical current through your skin. I have a small one and I love it. It is helpful for CTS as well as muscle pain.
- Ice & Rest
This is pretty much a no-brainer. I love heat and a not a huge fan of the cold, but it helps. Reusable ice packs like the kind you get for a small cooler are the best. I have one that I use with a sock, slip my arm into it and it keeps it in place. Ice a few time daily for 10-15 minutes, or as recommended by your doctor.
- Anti-Inflammatory medication
Advil works as an anti-inflammatory and is over the counter.
- Wrist Splints
Depending on the severity of your CTS a wrist splint can be helpful. Wearing a splint can help ensure proper positioning of the wrist and provide added support. Some therapists have discouraged the use of hard splints due their ‘restricting’ movement of the wrist, so if you use one don’t forget to take it off every hour, stretch, and minor rotation of the wrist. I am very fond of sports socks also known as compression sleeves. They provide support while still allowing full mobility. They also serve as a reminder for me to be more careful when I work.
- Change your habits.
I need to stress the importance of changing bad habits. A large majority of carpal or cubital tunnel suffers could of avoided the problem if they had the proper prevention knowledge prior to developing the condition. Either you worked too much, gamed too hard, had bad posture, or maybe like me (e) all of the above. You mustbe willing to change your way of thinking and adapt to better computer related habits. Get different computer equipment; i.e.: standing workstation, ergonomic keyboard, traditional mouse alternatives (trackpad, ball mouse etc). Take breaks, get up, walk around, stretch.
Try different things and see what works best for you.
Last but not least Rest…. Rest.. Oh did I mention REST? Yeah it’s boring, but the longer you delay the worse you’ll make it. I use computers for a living and game as a hobby in my free time. I had to really adjust my lifestyle and even 3 years later it isn’t easy. Take breaks, find other things you enjoy doing that isn’t computer related. I ended up watching a lot of TV and reading. 🙂
Good luck and happy healing!