Does a TENS Unit help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Are you struggling to use your mouse? play your video games or instruments? You might be suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Having aches, pain and numbness in your hands is scary. Irreversible damage can be done to the nerve if not treated in a timely matter.
Don’t settle with mediocre pain relief from a cheap brace and ineffective painkillers.
We will show you a proven method that gets results with your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
No need to express the importance of your hands. Until they become painful it is hard to really grasp how much we truly rely on our hands. Many of us work in an office and have no choice but to suffer until it becomes too unbearable and a trip to the doctors becomes the top priority.
In this article, we will talk about some of the most common symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, how to use a TENS machine as a part of your pain management method and some tactics to stop triggering your CTS.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful disorder in the hand. The pain is caused by pressure on the median nerves as it runs through the Carpal Tunnel of the wrist thus giving the name.
Many sufferers share very similar symptoms which include intense pain, (especially during the night) numbness, tingling, burning or pins and needles.
Many people experience burning sensations specifically in the pinky finger, the side of the ring finger and sometimes spreading all the way from the pinky down the side of the arm to the elbow!
Does a TENS Unit help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
TENS Unit therapy can be an amazing method for dealing with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! The mix of hand and wrist exercises, a suitable splint and rest is an amazing way to manage pain and see results within weeks.
A study found that Interferential Therapy (IFT) is actually more effective in treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. IFT is stronger than TENS and typically used by physiotherapists. However, we have a device designed for home use.
The core of the method is the TENS / IFT machine, stretching/exercises, rest and lastly movement restriction. You need to find a balance of repairing and resting whilst maintaining strength and increasing mobility.
The TENS / IFT unit is in charge of “repairing” the tendon. This is done by reducing the swelling of the nerve.
The Splint is in charge of the resting periods. The splints or brace is designed to keep the hand/wrist in a specific place and not restricting any movement. (which triggers your CTS) When the splint is on it should calm the pain down.
The hand and wrist exercises are vital because this is where you gain strength and mobility back in the wrist, hand and fingers.
The addition of hot & cold therapy has worked very well for some people so this could also be added to the method. Hot & cold therapy is a little harder to use in conjunction with the electrodes from the TENS unit whilst also utilizing the splint.
TENS machines (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) work by sending tiny electrical currents to the nerves through the surface of the skin. If you would like to know more in-depth about TENS / IFT technology Click Here
When the TENS / IFT Unit is on, you will feel a gentle tingling sensation that is comparable to a message. This sensation will replace the pain you feel in the hand, wrist and arm.
To get the optimal results from using a TENS / IFT machine, it is best to make sure the electrodes are placed in the correct location.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a burden, but it can be treated naturally with the combination of targeted rest, a wrist splint, hand exercises and a TENS / IFT Machine.
Most importantly (to our customers) there are absolutely no side effects whilst using our TENS Units.
Wrist and hand exercises/stretches
The cause of most peoples CTS is due to overuse. This makes exercising and stretching difficult due to the wrist being in motion.
That being said, exercising the wrist and fingers is necessary for regaining your full range of motion and grip strength.
If the patient takes the surgical route then it is vital that all exercises and stretches are completed consistently. Failure to do so can result in loss of grip strength as well as mobility in the wrist and fingers.
Here is a great resource I found for the different kinds of stretches and exercises you can utilize immediately
Traditional Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Traditional methods for treating CTS involve using a splint, surgery, pain killers and steroid injections to deal with the problem.
As more innovations in the medical field have emerged, we have discovered many alternatives that should replace the traditional methods soon.
For pain relief, a large amount of CTS patients use anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s) such as Cymbalta
Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen may offer short-term relief from Carpal Tunnel pain.
However, there's little evidence to say they can treat the cause of CTS so it's important not to rely on them.
Wear a wrist splint or brace
Wrist splints or braces are often worn to help relieve the pain by taking some pressure off the wrist however, once the splint is taken off the pain normally resumes. This is because the nerve is resting and not repairing. This back and forth can lead to nerve damage.
Many physiotherapists and doctors often consider splints and braces ineffective on their own.It is important to test and try out different braces and splints to find the perfect fit for your hand and wrist.
Some people say that Carpal Tunnel braces and splints make the pain worse. If this is the case for you then switch your Carpal Tunnel brace for one that relieves the pressure. It’s very important to find a brace that restricts movement.
Keeping the wrist still and in a fixed position will stop the nerve from becoming more inflamed.
Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Release
Surgery may be recommended by your doctor if the non-surgical routes have not been effective. However, surgery should be seen as the last resort as there are alternatives to getting under the knife. The surgery is an Endoscopic release surgery
Corticosteroids are drugs that are injected directly into your wrist by the doctor. Corticosteroids are known to decrease swelling and inflammation, which may, in turn, release the pressure on the median nerve and make your wrist feel less painful.
However, Corticosteroid injections eventually will wear off and the symptoms may start appearing again.
Alternative Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
There are many alternative treatments to surgery, taking medication or getting steroid injections for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The side-effects of the traditional routes of treatment are troublesome so I will list some of the most effective and safe alternatives below.
Kinesiology (KT) tape for Carpal Tunnel
KT Tape is the best option for wrist support for Carpal Tunnel instead of splints or braces. This is because there are several ways to wrap a wrist for Carpal Tunnel using kt tape.
Kinesiology tape also helps to improve the damaged median nerve which means KT tape could be an amazing preventative measure for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This means the KT tape could prevent the severity of CTS increasing.
It is important that you get the tape applied correctly until you understand how the tape works and how to apply it to yourself.
Try the variety of different wrapping methods to find the best style to relieve pressure on your wrist.
A cause of CTS for many people is their mouse, keyboard, video game controller, music instrument and power tools.Try lowering the vibration on power tools and spreading the usage by switching hands and learning with your weaker hand. An example of this is learning to use a mouse with the opposite hand. Try using your left hand at home and your right hand at work to reduce some of the strain.
There are many options for more ergonomic keyboards and mouses for computers which could reduce the repetitive motions that lead to overuse and eventually CTS or Osteoarthritis
Hot & Cold Therapy
This traditional therapy has been used for a long time for a variety of different conditions. The combination of ice and heat is a great alternative to treating your CTS. It is very easy to apply and many people use a combination of reusable ice packs and heat packs.
How to avoid Carpal Tunnel whilst gaming
Many gamers frequently get wrist pain from gaming or using their mouse in general. This is due to overactivity. It's not uncommon to see some of the top gamers using a “gamer wrist brace”.
Gaming wrist braces are more for aesthetics than anything else due to their inability to effectively stop or reduce the wrist pain from using the mouse.
The best ways to prevent or avoid carpel tunnel for gamers:
- Rest or switch hand using the mouse.
- Every hour take 5 - 10 minutes to stretch
- Relax your grip and reduce your force with the ergonomic hardware
- Keep your hands warm!
- Lower vibration on controllers
What Triggers Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Swelling is the main culprit for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and this can be caused by repetitive hand movement from writing, playing sports, playing a instrument, gaming, pregnancy and arthritis.
CTS occurs when the Carpal Tunnel inside your wrist becomes swollen and squeezes one of your nerves (median nerve).
You're more at risk if you:
- constantly using a mouse or a video game controller.
- are pregnant
- do work or hobbies that mean you repeatedly bend your wrist or grip hard, such as using vibrating tools
- have another illness or disease, such as diabetes or arthritis
- have a family member with CTS
- previously injured your wrist
Check if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The normal symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:
- Ache or pain in your fingers, thumb, hand, wrist or arm
- Numb hands or fingers
- Tingling or pins and needles sensation
- Weak hands, fingers or thumb, difficult to grab or gripping things
- These symptoms often on and off.
- The symptoms are often worse at night
.Carpal Tunnel Syndrome vs Tendonitis
Many wrist pain sufferers might confuse the pain for tendonitis or CTS. Tendonitis reacts far better to anti-inflammatories due to Tendonitis being the inflammation of tendons.The main difference between tendonitis & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is that Tendonitis affects the nerves and Carpal Tunnel affects the nerves.
With that being said many of the treatments such as a TENS machine and Hot & Cold therapy can be used for both conditions.
Koca, I., Boyaci, A., Tutoglu, A. et al. Rheumatol Int (2014) 34: 1639. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00296-014-3005-3