- How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Without Surgery
If you ask Alex to summarize himself in three words, he would give these three adjectives:
Outgoing, balanced, and focused.
As a 37-year-old IT engineer, he is definitely on top of his game. He was recently promoted to the senior engineer position at the telecommunications company he’s been working for in three years, a huge feat if you would consider how fierce the competition is on those ranks.
On top of that, Alex is one of those who had his work-life balance down pat. While he spends considerable time at work, he could still go out for drinks, grab dinners with friends, and even take the time to visit the gym regularly.
In other words, Alex is the man of the hour. If this were a cheesy movie, the narrator would say his life is pretty perfect.
A crack in the fairy tale
It was during a trouble-shooting session when he first felt it. One of the junior engineers were out on sick leave, so Alex had to pull in a few extra hours to fill up the lack of manpower. It wasn’t something he hadn’t done before. There was a connection line down and he simply had to process a few codes to get it back up. He was already 80 percent done with the work when he felt a twinge on the tips of his fingers that made him stop typing away at his keyboard. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it IS the first time that the sensation became unbearable he had to stop. He tried massaging his palms, pulled at his fingers, and even made his knuckles pop. The discomfort subsided. He finished his work that day.
The next evening, it was on again. This time he wasn’t in front of his computer but at his favorite spot in the gym. He was working on lifting the usual set of weights he had been working on for the past month when the tingling sensation made him pause in the middle of grabbing the steel. This time it was different. The numbness had already spread to almost half of his arm.
The plot twist
“It seems like you’re experiencing the first symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.”
Those are the exact words of Alex’s doctor the next morning. It was 1 PM and he was sitting at the office of a rehab specialist, the second medical professional he had seen for the day. That morning, he went to a primary care doctor who gave him the same answer but asked him to ask for a second opinion.
He was confused. He didn’t think someone with such a low-impact job like him could suffer from one.
“You said you are an IT engineer?”
“How much time do you spend on your computer?”
“Well, pretty much the whole of 10 hours I work.”
“And after that?”
“I exercise. Three times a week I lift.”
“That pretty much sums it.”
As it turns out, Alex’s repetitive hand movements at work have been slowly taking its toll on his wrists. Add that to his lifting activities that involve extreme flexing of his wrist muscles, and he’s got the perfect recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that happens when certain tissues surrounding the tendons that help with hand movement swell. The pain and discomfort are caused when these tissues (called the synovium) put pressure on the median nerve, resulting in numbness and pain. The synovium, in their normal state, works to lubricate the tendons and enables the fingers to move smoothly.
The good news is that Alex’s CTS case was still on its early stage so he didn’t need surgery yet. He wasn’t given a brace for his hand, too, but was asked to change his lifestyle habits that have been causing the stress on his wrists. Obviously, he wouldn’t be able to quit work—though he did make some changes on typing posture—but he did have to drop his lifting routine for the time being.
“What happens if it gets worse?” He remembers asking his doctor before leaving his office.
“Well, worst-case scenario, you’ll get nerve damage. Then you’ll have to go through hand surgery.”
Yikes. That he can’t have.
The silver lining
It was during a meeting when Alex found his first sliver of hope. He had zoned out during one of the presentations and didn’t realize that he had been staring directly at this weird exercise tool his junior manager is using. It was round and was making his employee’s wrist move in a smooth rotating motion.
He casually asked him about it on their way to the pantry after the meeting.
“It’s an NSD Spinner. I started using it after I was told that I have early onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.”
Alex isn’t one to easily believe in fads, so he asked if he could borrow it first before he purchases his own. The glowing reviews of his co-worker about the small exercise tool just seems too good to be true. Not only did it help manage his pain, it even strengthened his wrists, too. He wasn’t ready to buy those quite yet.
He first picked up his borrowed NSD Spinner while he was going through his e-mails the next morning. He had asked for instructions on how to use it—it was a little tricky to figure out at first, but he got the hang of it with his co-worker’s help (you pull a string and let the natural motion of the ball guide the movement of your hand)—and finished his first set of exercise in under five minutes. It was so easy to use that he picked it up the next morning, and then the next until it has become a regular part of his routine already. His co-worker even gave him a simple workout routine to follow complete with the right number of sets he should finish on a day. He would usually spin it during his first few minutes of getting into the office while going through his mails, voicemail, or his first cup of coffee.
Breaking through the fog
To Alex’s surprise, he did find some improvement on his wrists after a few days of trying it. He noticed that the tingling sensation had slowly disappeared, then the pain on his wrists toned down little by little. The next time he visited his specialist again, he shared about his discovery. The doctor looked impressed.
“It’s a wrist exerciser. The low impact movements of the ball were not forceful enough to increase your injury but it encourages the production of synovial fluid in your wrist which helped it slowly heal.”
Alex was ecstatic. His doctor has confirmed that his wrist was on its way to healing after a series of tests. He was also encouraged to continue using the NSD Spinner. He immediately bought his own the moment he got home that day and continued on with his routine.
In less than two months, Alex’s wrist has basically healed. He had given himself some time to go back to the gym, but his doctor had given him the clearance to resume his old hobby two months after picking up the Spinner. Not only has his wrist healed, he even managed to strengthen it because he kept up with his exercise even after the discomfort was gone.
Now, Alex is back in the gym and is slowly working through his weights. He had ordered a new NSD Spinner, the AutoStart Spinner—it’s a stringless model that works by winding up the rotor and releasing it to spin—and uses it to do his regular wrist exercises in the morning at work. He has been cleared from his carpal tunnel syndrome.
Just like how they put it at the end of the movie. Alex did get a pretty nice ending and is now back in the game.
Does Alex’s story hit close to home? You can get back to your regular routine by taking charge of your wrist discomfort, too!