Have a question you forgot to discuss at the doctor’s office or are too embarrassed to ask? The experts at Samaritan Health Services are here to help. Aug / Sept
Q: My wrists are really bothering me from work. If it’s carpal tunnel, what are my options?
A: Carpal tunnel syndrome can be brought on by repetitive hand movements, pregnancy or medical conditions such as obesity. It’s basically caused by pressure on the median nerve, due to swelling from those repetitive activities. The good news is, there are steps you can take to prevent it from slowing you down.
First, take good care of your general health. Maintain a healthy weight, get regular exercise and refrain from tobacco use. This will help keep your arms, hands and fingers strong and flexible while preventing injuries from overuse. When using a computer, maintain proper posture and practice pinching your shoulder blades together. Too much time hunched over is a primary cause of worsening nerve symptoms. You can also rest your wrist on a gel pad placed in front of your mouse.
Is your wrist kinked or flexed when you hold your cell phone? Consider investing in a holding device to keep your wrist in a more neutral position. If you can, dictate your text messages instead of using your fingers and thumbs. If you feel tingling and numbness, rest your fingers, hand and wrist and ice them for 10 to 15 minutes. Resume activity gradually once symptoms stop. Try a wrist splint to keep your wrist in a neutral position — not bent back or forward. You can even wear the splint at night. We all sleep in positions that are awkward for our wrists. The splint helps ensure your nerve gets all the blood flow and oxygen it needs.
If returning to normal activity continues to cause discomfort, see a clinician that specializes in hand and wrist treatment to evaluate your options. Treatment typically consists of physical or occupational therapy for stretching, wrist and posture exercises, oral medications or steroid injections. If conservative treatment doesn’t help, surgery to reduce pressure on the median nerve may be recommended. After surgery, the ligament grows back together and allows more space than before, eliminating your symptoms.
— Erin Campaignac, MD, Samaritan Medical Group Hand to Shoulder Orthopedics
Q: How do I know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for my pregnancy and family?
A: Millions of doses have been administered internationally since last December, and they are proving to be very effective at protecting you against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. And the complications have been minimal when you consider the number of shots that have been given.
While these vaccines were not tested in those who are pregnant, the risks are theoretically low. In fact, getting the coronavirus when pregnant can be far worse.
In a study of 23,434 pregnant people, those with symptomatic COVID-19 were more likely than non-pregnant people with the virus to have more severe illness, hospital admissions, death and premature birth.
Health care leaders recommend vaccination to prevent new infections, especially now with the new variants. Theoretically, there is very little harm to your baby through breast milk if you choose to get the vaccine. Additionally, there is potential for you to pass along antibodies to your baby through your breast milk, so that would be a good thing for your baby.
I got my vaccine because I wanted to be able to hug my husband and 3-year-old son without feeling like I was unintentionally infecting them. I had some side effects, but my thought was, “If this is just an inkling of what getting COVID-19 is like, I am so thankful that I got this vaccine.”
— Juliette Asuncion, DO, Sweet Home Family Medicine
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Call Samaritan Health Services Find a Doctor line at 800-863-5241 to find a provider who is right for you.