Question:I just got a pair of splints to wear whenever possible for carpal tunnel syndrome. They are both set in such a way that my wrist is propped up a bit. This makes it difficult to do things when I'm wearing the splint. Is it really necessary?
Answer:Cock-up splints for carpal tunnel syndrome help take the stretch and pressure off the median nerve. This gives the nerve time to rest and recuperate. Exercises to improve tendon and nerve gliding through the carpal tunnel are usually given along with the splints.
The splints are designed to modify your activities. What can't be done in this position, shouldn't be done. The flexed wrist position must be avoided, especially for long periods of time such as during the sleeping hours.
Sleeping with the wrists and hand curled puts pressure on the nerve and cuts off the circulation. Lack of blood supply called ischemia is a likely contributor to the problem. Studies show that ischemia is actually more detrimental to nerve function than mechanical compression from overuse of the muscles.
For the best results, wear the splints as directed. Avoid activities that can't be done easily while wearing the splints. When it comes time to gradually wean yourself off the splints, you should be doing a progressive series of strengthening exercises. It's important to do these in order to protect your wrist and hand from further problems.Kent A. Schnetzler, MD. Acute Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. May 2008. Vol. 16. No. 5. Pp. 276-282.
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