What's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is when the tendons in the narrow part of your wrist (the carpal tunnel) swells, pressing or squeezing the nerve that runs from your forearm to your hand.
Symptoms appear gradually with you feeling burning, tingling, weakness, or numbness in the palms and fingers, sometimes even radiating up the arm. Decreased grip strength makes it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other daily tasks with your hands. Fingers feel useless and swollen, and in some more serious cases people are unable to tell temperature by touch.
Can I use an FSA to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
If there is inflammation, use cool packs to help reduce the swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers, can also help to reduce swelling and ease pain. These drugs are eligible with your Flexible Spending Account with a doctor’s prescription for FSA reimbursement.
In addition, stretching and strengthening exercises can help to treat symptoms. You may need to see a physical therapist to treat the physical impairments in your wrist. Acupuncture and chiropractic care may also help to reduce pain and improve grip strength. All of these visits are eligible with a Flexible Spending Account. Browse other expenses via the Eligibility List.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Factors
There are a combination of factors that can increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel. The disorder could be due to a hereditary predisposition as some people’s carpal tunnel is smaller than others’. Contributing factors include but are not limited to trauma or injury to the wrist, over activity of the pituitary gland, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, work stress, etc.
Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome and it typically occurs only in adults. The dominant hand is usually affected first and yields the most severe pain. Risk of developing Carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t confined to one line of work, but those performing assembly line work are at much higher risk due to the repetitive motions.
It’s important to get early diagnosis and treatment to avoid permanent damage to the median nerve. During diagnosis, the wrist is examined for tenderness, swelling, warmth, and discoloration. There are many tests a physician may conduct to test for symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome during a visit. Remember, you can use funds from your Flexible Spending Account to cover copays and lab tests done during a visit to the doctor’s office to test for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment involves resting the affected hand and wrist for at least 2 weeks and avoiding activities that may aggravate the condition. You may have to immobilize the wrist in a splint to protect from further damage through twisting or bending the rest.
If the carpal tunnel syndrome is serious, you may need to get carpal tunnel release surgery done. This is one of the most common surgical procedures in the US and is recommended if symptoms last for 6 months. In surgery, the band of tissues around the wrist is severed to reduce pressure on the median nerve. Symptoms may be relieved immediately after surgery, but full recovery can take month.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, try performing regular stretching exercises, taking frequent rest breaks, wearing splints to keep wrists straight, and using correct posture at work. Wearing fingerless gloves can be preventative in keeping hands warm, flexible, and in the right position.
Learn more via: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm