It’s All In The Wrist – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

We’ve all heard the ‘secret’ to a perfect forehand in tennis, or hitting a home run, right? “It’s all in the wrist” as the saying goes. There’s likely plenty of truth to such a statement since the wrist is such a critical part of our body in use during most of a person’s waking hours. Therefore, it is hardly surprising to hear how many people suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome nowadays.

What exactly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and why is it so prevalent today?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition causing numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hand because of pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. The median nerve and several tendons run down your forearm to your hand through a small space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. This median nerve controls movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers, but not the pinky finger.

Excess pressure on the medial nerve can be due to swelling or anything else that makes the carpal tunnel smaller. No doubt, the increasing use of computers, tablets and mobile devices  is playing a part in the increased cases of this condition. Some other common causes are:

  • Pregnancy (yes, that tiny little baby growing in your belly can cause problems in your wrists!)
  • Repetitive movements of the hand or wrist
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or hypothyroidism

If you have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the key to relief is to see your doctor right away and find out what is recommended in your specific case to treat the problem quickly.

While surgery is an option, it is generally not the first course of treatment. Surgery is generally not recommended unless  your pain causes the inability to work, sleep or perform daily tasks that were  previously done with ease. The sooner you begin a treatment plan, the better your chances of alleviating the symptoms and preventing long-term damage to the nerve.

Generally, your doctor or physical therapist will advise that mild to moderate symptoms from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated with home care.

You will probably be told to:

1) Wear a wrist brace or support at night to take the pressure off the nerve and surrounding area.

2) Minimize or avoid activities that cause numbness and pain.

3) Rest your wrist and hands often between different routine activities such as computer or tablet use, sewing or crafting.

4) Use ice or cold packs on the wrists to reduce swelling.

5) Take over the counter, anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and swelling.

Ames Walker offers a variety of wrist splints, braces and supports that are helpful in treating symptoms from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your doctor or therapist can recommend which type of support will be most useful to you and our team of certified experts are always available to assist you in making your selection.

Healthy Heels – Taking care of Plantar Fasciitis

If  you woke up this morning and instead of jumping out of bed and landing on your feet, as you did yesterday,  you find yourself cringing as your heels touch the floor,  you’ve likely got yourself a dose of Plantar Fasciitis.  Also called jogger’s heel,  Plantar Fasciitis is a condition affecting the heel and sole of the foot.  With more than 10% of people suffering from plantar fasciitis at some point during their lifetime, it is the most common cause of heel pain, A diagnosis of plantar fasciitis basically means you have  inflammation of the tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) connecting your heel bone to the base of your toes.

Although people at any age are susceptible to this condition, you are far more likely to develop the Plantar Fasciitis if you are:

  • female
  • overweight
  • or have a job that requires standing on hard surfaces or a lot of walking.

Activities such as long-distance running, ballet dancing and aerobics can contribute to an earlier onset of plantar fasciitis even without other risk factors involved. for plantar fasciitis include excessive running, standing on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time. People with very flat feet or very high arches also are more prone to plantar fasciitis, and if you have very tight calf muscles that limit how far you can flex your ankles, you’re also at risk.

This condition typically starts gradually with mild pain at the heel bone, often referred to as a stone bruise. You probably won’t feel it  during exercising, as it typically comes on once the activity has ended. The most sever pain is usually felt upon getting up in the morning and after a long periods of sitting.

While many people may find their heals do heal on their own with time,  if you don’t treat plantar fasciitis, it may become a chronic condition and you run the risk of developing other foot, knee, hip or back problems from compensation, which causes these secondary conditions to crop up.

There is no single, straightforward, one-size-fits-all treatment plan that for this condition. Rather,  your doctor or podiatrist may recommend one or more of the following for your treatment:

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  • Specific routines of stretching for the foot and lower leg/calf muscles.
  • You may be advised to use shoes with shock-absorbing soles or try wearing  a shoe insert device like a rubber heel pad.
  • A positional splint when you sleep. designed to position and maintain the ankle in a neutral position, thus passively stretching the calf and plantar fascia overnight during sleep.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • If you still have symptoms, you may need to wear a walking cast for two to three weeks.

The good news is that around 90% of plantar fasciitis cases will improve within six months with mild treatment, and within a year regardless of treatment.  Doctors will only suggest surgery for people who still have pain after trying other treatments for 6 to 12 months.

Diabetics Can Take the Right Steps With Orthotics

One of the secondary risks of diabetes is foot complications and ailments. These include neuropathy, a nervous system impairment that reduces sensation to pain, and poor circulation, which reduces blood flow and can cause wounds to heal more slowly. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, 25% of diabetics will suffer from some sort of foot complications. These can get serious; neuropathy, for example, can lead to nerve damage and deformities like hammer toes and Charcot foot. Small cuts or blisters may go unnoticed and, combined with poor blood flow this can lead to ulcerations, infections, unhealed wounds, even amputation.

These complications make it especially important for people with diabetes to inspect their feet every day. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society recommends the following routine:

  • Look for scratches, puncture wounds, redness, bruises, blisters and any other injury or abnormality.
  • Feel your feet for swelling.
  • Look between your toes.
  • Inspect 6 areas of the bottom of your feet: tip of big toes, base of middle toes and little toe, heel, the ball of your foot and the outside edge of your foot.
  • Check each foot for lack of sensation.

If any of these conditions are present, contact your doctor immediately.

Who’s Most at Risk?

Complications like these usually don’t occur right away, but after someone has had diabetes for 10 years or more. However, poorly controlled diabetes can cause complications to occur sooner. Risk factors include the following:

  • Pre-existing foot abnormalities like severe high arches or flat feet
  • Being very tall or overweight
  • The existence of calluses or corns
  • A previous diagnosis of arterial insufficiency or neuropathy
  • The existence of Charcot foot

How Orthotics and Orthotic Shoes Can Help

Proper footwear should be part of a treatment program, even in the early stages of diabetes. And, if neuropathy or other complications are present, special footwear is crucial. One of the best ways you can protect your feet from diabetic complications and ease diabetic foot pain is by wearing orthotics or orthotic shoes.

Orthotics

Orthotics are specially designed molded inserts worn inside shoes. They can be made of plastic, leather, cork or rubber and are usually rigid. They reduce pressure on the foot and shock absorption, which in turn reduces the likelihood of skin ulcers or bone deformities. By slightly changing the angle at which the foot hits the ground, orthotics change the alignment of the foot, which reduces the pressure put on it. In fact, in a study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, patients with history of foot ulcers were followed for two years. Those using orthotics had a reduced rate of re-ulceration, from 79% down to 15%.

Orthotic Shoes

Apex orthotic shoes Ames Walker

For diabetics who suffer from neuropathy or arterial insufficiency or for those whose blood sugar is uncontrolled, orthotic shoes can play a big role in both treatment and easing of symptoms. Diabetic shoes have several specific features:

  • Made of soft leather or other soft stretchable material
  • Deep toe box to accommodate swelling or bone deformities like bunions and hammer toes
  • Extra depth and width
  • Protective toe and heel
  • Breathable material or some sort of ventilation
  • A cushioned sole for better shock absorption

Diabetic shoes relieve pressure and reduce shock. They also support and slow the progression of deformities like Charcot foot. And if possible, they should limit joint movement to relieve pain and inflammation.

In the past, people with diabetes and other foot ailments have been limited to unfashionable, ungainly footwear. But today, orthotic footwear is more mindful of style as well as comfort. Ames Walker has a broad collection of styles for men and women.

Tips for Taking Care of Diabetic Feet

  • Don’t walk barefoot. With decreased nerve sensation, you may miss small cuts or scrapes that can lead to serious infection.
  • Wash your feet with warm water and mild soap. Then dry gently, including between the toes.
  • Keep your feet warm and dry. Wear socks to bed and keep your feet from getting wet in rain or snow. If they do get wet, gently dry them and put on dry socks and shoes.
  • Use moisturizing lotion to keep feet soft.
  • Don’t smoke. It lessens the delivery of oxygen to the body and, combined with diabetes, increases the risk of amputation.

A foot care routine can go a long way towards preventing serious problems. And something as relatively simple as wearing orthotics or orthotic shoes may provide significant benefits.