Simple Tricks and When to Call in the Pros
From parents working remotely to students learning remotely, more and more Americans are working and receiving an education from the comfort of their own homes than ever before. But just because you’re working (or attending school) in a more casual environment doesn’t mean you should be a slouch! By all means, wear your pajamas if you like, but try to be mindful of your posture as you do your work throughout the day.
Five Tips for Better Posture
- Choose your spot wisely. A desk is best, but if you don’t have a dedicated desk and ergonomic chair at home, choose the kitchen or dining room table. Even a counter-height bar with a bar stool is better than the couch, or worse, your bed.
- Don’t slouch. We get it, it’s comfy to slouch and lean back. But this is a posture no-no and can result in neck and back pain. Instead, sit all the way back in your chair. If your chair doesn’t have lumbar support, place a small, rolled-up towel or lumbar cushion behind your mid-back. This will protect your spine’s natural curve. Place your feet flat on the floor.
- Get rid of tech (or text) neck. It’s a thing. If you spend a good portion of the day on your smartphone or other handheld devices, take a minute to stretch your neck. When you tilt your head down to check messages, it can put strain on your spine, causing pain in your neck and back. Over the course of a day, that strain can add up. Even better? Hold your phone a little higher. This will raise your eyes and your head.
- Stand up straight. An easy way to prevent posture problems? Stand up straight. And stand up often! You’ll feel better, we promise. Pretend you’re standing against a wall to measure your height. Hold your head straight and tuck in your chin. Stand with your shoulders back, knees straight and your tummy tucked in. Bonus? This will strengthen your core and may even burn a few extra calories.
- Check for problems. If you find that despite your best efforts to be mindful about your posture as you work, you’re still experiencing pain, tingling or numbness in your back, neck, arms or wrist, it may be time to see an expert. There are a few peripheral nerve conditions that can affect your ability to work comfortably and that will not resolve on their own.
Peripheral Nerve Conditions are Best Left to the Experts
Unexplained pain, tingling and numbness of any type can be an inconvenience and is certainly a nuisance. But there are instances where unexplained pain—especially if that pain is severe and/or chronic—can become more than a nuisance. And here is the truth; these symptoms are often trying to tell you about a health problem going on inside your body. Paying attention to pain’s warning signs is wise.
At Kalra Brain & Spine, we see many individuals dealing with peripheral nerve pain of one type or another. These same people often presented with neck or arm pain and had no idea their symptoms could be related to their spine. But before taking a look at the peripheral nerve conditions we see and treat here at Kalra Brain & Spine, a quick definition is in order:
Peripheral Neuropathy – The conditions that result when nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body become damaged or diseased.
The most common peripheral nerve conditions we see at Kalra Brain & Spine are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. Similar but not the same, these two conditions can cause significant pain from the wrist to the elbow. Let’s take a closer look.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve, which is located on the palm side of your hand (also called the carpal tunnel). This nerve provides sensation to your thumb, index finger, long finger and part of the ring finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in one or both of your hands, and symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling (pins and needles) in the hand and/or arm.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Certain jobs that involve repeating the same motion with your arm over a long time may raise your chances of developing the condition. Additionally, some medical conditions have been linked to the condition, including obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and even pregnancy.
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
At Kalra Brain & Spine, we see a fair amount of this common condition. The first line of treatment for carpal tunnel is typically anti-inflammatory medications, occupational therapy, wrist splints, steroid injections and workplace adjustments.
When these measures fail to bring lasting relief, Dr. Ricky Kalra may recommend a surgical procedure called Carpal Tunnel Release. Carpal Tunnel Release is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States and has an excellent success rate. Surgery involves separating a ligament around the wrist to reduce pressure on the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve (one of the three main nerves in the arm) becomes compressed or irritated at the elbow. The ulnar nerve travels from your neck down into your hand and can be constricted in several places along the way.
What Causes Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Cubital tunnel syndrome is primarily caused by abnormal bone growth in the elbow or intense physical activity that increases pressure on the ulnar nerve. Baseball pitchers, for example, have an increased risk of cubital tunnel syndrome because the twisting motion required to throw certain pitches can damage delicate ligaments in the elbow.
How is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
Often, cubital tunnel syndrome can be managed conservatively, especially if there is minimal pressure on the ulnar nerve. Mild cases of cubital tunnel syndrome often respond to physical therapy and wearing a splint to prevent over-bending at the elbow. In cases where splinting doesn’t help, or nerve compression is more severe, Dr. Kalra may recommend surgery to release pressure on the ulnar nerve.
You Deserve to Feel Great
We can’t promise the rest of your 2020 is going to be trouble-free. But we can promise you this. If you’re dealing with unexplained pain that is restricting your ability to work and live your life the way you want to, the chances are great that we can help.
At Kalra Brain & Spine, you’re in good hands. Dr. Kalra specializes in the most up-to-date evidence-based neurological care. He has helped countless people get out of pain and regain their lives. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described here or have unexplained pain (even if you’ve seen other doctors and still have not found relief), we’d love to meet with you to see if we can help. Schedule an appointment today.