A Woman's Hands

I automatically assumed that I have carpal tunnel because I spend my days with my fingers glued to the keyboard and my wrist resting on my desk.  But who invited menopause to the party?  More women over 50 than men suffer the crippling pain of carpal tunnel.  Those dreaded hormone fluctuations strike again!

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel in your wrist and provides sensation and motor function to your thumb, index finger, middle finger and the inner side of the ring finger.  Anything that puts pressure on the nerve will reduce the space for it in the carpal tunnel and cause pain, tingling, numbness and weakness.  I don’t have pain in my baby finger because the median nerve doesn’t provide sensation to that finger.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel?
Although menopause and repetitive injuries can cause carpal tunnel, so can:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Thyroid disorders
  3. Fluid retention during pregnancy
  4. Rheumetoid arthritis
  5. Size of your carpal tunnel. It could be more narrow than average (I wish my hips were).

Women are three times more likely than men to develop the condition. And heredity can strengthen the odds of you developing carpal tunnel. My sister has it too!

Stiff As A Baseball Glove
Pins and needles don’t begin to describe the painful tingling and numbness in my fingers and hand that would greet me every morning – more like knives and razor blades!  The fingers on my right hand never woke up in the morning – probably the only part of my body that went to “sleep” in the first place!  The painful stiffness was aggravating and made the most simple tasks difficult if not impossible.  I can’t tell you how much I dreaded washing my hair in the mornings.  Raising my arms over my head was absolute torture.  So I had a lot of bad hair days back then! 

Relief At Last
Having the pain at night and waking up in the morning with my symptoms gave the doctor a pretty good idea that I had carpal tunnel.  Some tests also exist to determine if you have it and you should talk to your doctor about them.

What’s working for me to relieve the symptoms are:

  1. Taking a vitamin B6 supplement.
  2. Wearing a wrist splint at night.
  3. A beanbag support that I lean my wrist on when I’m typing on the computer.

My sister takes Devil’s Claw (a root extract) that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and she wears a wrist splint at night.  I haven’t tried Devil’s Claw so I can’t make any claims about its effectiveness.  These remedies have worked for us but we’re all different so talk to your doctor.  It seems like when something in my body isn’t quite right, menopause is lurking in the shadows.  Just remember you’re not alone.  Help is out there! 

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