How Cold Weather Conditions Can Affect Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Staying wrapped up in the cold weather is Important in order to take care your hands. Not only does the lower temperatures affect the nerves in your body but it can also intensify the pain that comes with carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on this median nerve inside of the wrist. The carpal tunnel itself is a narrow passage and when the nerve is being compressed, it can start to cause discomfort in the hand. Cold temperatures restrict blood flow and cause muscle tissue to expand, putting added pressure on the median nerve which can exacerbate the condition.

Cold Hands

Flare ups of carpal tunnel can also be triggered by Atmospheric pressure that comes along with cold temperatures. Again, this can cause the muscle tissue to expand and compress the median nerve. This is why athletes will warm up before partaking in sports as this helps to soften the tissue and make the areas more flexible.

To combat the cold conditions, we recommend:

· Wearing gloves made of wool, leather or synthetic materials

· Regularly moving your fingers to help to stimulate a healthy blood circulation

· Avoid tight clothing and accessories. Good blood circulation is key in keeping warm

but if you wear gloves that are too tight or watch bands that do not fit correctly then this will restrict blood flow

· Keeping your hands dry. If you're having to head out into snow or rain then gloves that

are waterproof will help to keep moisture off of your hands. If you are heading out specifically for an activity then it is important not to overheat your hands during these activities. If you are partaking in a high intensity activity outdoors then options like thick thermal gloves will not be suitable and you will want to opt for something more breathable

· Visiting a medical professional to discuss the factors of your condition and how

to treat it


On the nights, wearing a wrist brace can help to keep your wrist straight which takes pressure off the median nerve, however speaking with your doctor to get the correct one for your symptoms is important. There are wrist braces available that are not designed for carpal tunnel syndrome ,some are intended for things like breakages and sprains. These wrist braces feature straps across the wrist or have a metal spine along the palm side of the brace and this will only put more pressure onto the median nerve. A wrist brace will also need to fit you comfortably so that it is not too tight to impede blood flow and also loose enough so that you are still able to move your wrist to ensure a good blood circulation. Washable lightweight fabrics are recommended as they help to combat against any perspiration build up, keeping the targeted area clean.

Treatments

Non-Surgical: If early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome are detected and reviewed before they escalate then your carpal tunnel can be relieved of the pressure without the need for surgery. This can be achieved through different forms such as splinting, medicines or therapies.

Surgical: If non-surgical treatments are not successful or signs of carpal tunnel syndrome are not acted upon, then surgery may be the next step. The two types of surgical procedures that can be performed are:

  • Open carpal tunnel release: Your surgeon will separate the transverse carpal ligament which in effect will relieve the pressure from the median nerve and create more room within the carpal tunnel to prevent any reoccurring pressure.

  • Endoscopic carpal tunnel release: This is the same procedure as open carpal tunnel release, however your surgeon will use an endoscope (small camera) to see inside your hand/wrist.


Our Clinics

We currently perform Minor Surgery within Doncaster and Stoke & North Staffordshire. Our clinics are community based to allow you to be seen locally instead of having to visit a hospital. These clinics are easily accessible, offering free car parking for your convenience. To access our hand surgery services please contact your GP. If you have any questions regarding hand surgery appointments, please do not hesitate to get in touch via our ‘contact us’ page.