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Pelham - Windham News August 13, 2010 - 9

submitted by Kerry Raymond, Independence Therapy Associates

Well Care Well Care

After a Kerry Raymond

long day at work, you are looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Your hands have been sore all day and you want to get

home and rest. All ready for bed, you fall asleep, exhausted, only to wake hours later with tingling in one of your hands. You have been experiencing the numbness and tingling for months, but the symptoms seem to be worsening and affecting you during the day, dropping your coffee cup and having difficulty buttoning a shirt. What could be going on?

Nerve compression injuries can affect thousands of people each year, whether you work in an office or in construction. One of the most common nerve compression injuries experienced is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Symptoms of CTS are typically numbness and tingling to the thumb, index, middle, and sometimes the ring finger, as well as clumsiness or poor dexterity. As the symptoms persist, a person may also experience weakness and pain in the affected hand due to pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is made up of carpal bones on three sides. The roof of the carpal tunnel is formed by the transverse carpal ligament. The median nerve and nine tendons pass through this small space in the wrist. Causes of CTS can vary; prolonged pressure on the palm side of the wrists, keeping the wrists bent for long periods of time, vibration, or constant gripping and pinching can be some of the causes. So what can be done to help with the symptoms? Before trying various

Don’t let fall asthma triggers foil your child’s fun

Fall means back-to-school, cooler weath- er—and an increase in asthma attacks. In fact, childhood asthma statistics show that children with asthma are nearly twice as likely to visit the emergency department when school starts as at other times of the year. That’s largely because autumn allergens and viral infections can unleash childhood asthma symptoms. A chronic inflammation of the lung airways

that causes difficulty in breathing, asthma affects more than 23 million Americans, including 7 million children. It is the most common chron- ic illness in childhood, leading to 12.8 million missed school days each year. And most people don’t outgrow asthma—it accounts for 10.1 mil- lion lost work days. “Many people end up in the emergency room because they are unaware they or their children suffer from asthma, or they know they have asthma but don’t have it under control,” says Dr. James Sublett, an allergist and chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Im- munology’s (ACAAI) public relations committee. “Asthma can be life-threatening, and although it’s not curable, there are a number of asthma treat- ment options.” Suspect you or your child might have asthma?

The ACAAI suggests the following tips for breath- ing easy this fall: * Get tested, get help – Allergists are specially

trained to diagnose and treat asthma. In fact, re- search shows that asthma sufferers referred to an allergist experienced 76 percent fewer emergency room visits than those not treated by an asthma specialist. Visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief. org to take an asthma relief self-test, read about patients who have their asthma under control and find an allergist near you. * Get treatment – You can treat asthma in a number of ways, including medication that may be taken daily for long-term control and inhalers that can be used to give quick relief when symptoms flare. Often, allergies trigger asth- ma. To help keep allergies in check, immunotherapy, also called allergy shots, may help. An allergist can help you determine what you’re allergic to and sug- gest treatments. * Avoid sniffling, sneez- ing and wheezing – Kids share lockers, desks—and germs. Viral respiratory infections are widespread this time of year and are the leading cause of severe asthma attacks. If you or your child suffers from asthma, do everything you can to avoid colds and other illnesses, includ- ing washing your hands frequently and getting a flu shot. * Prepare before work- ing up a sweat – Whether during a game of tag at recess, a sprint down the sidelines in a soccer game or a fall fun run, exercise can trigger asthma symp- toms. Be prepared with a quick relief inhaler. * Beware the weather

– Fall is known for fluctuat- ing weather conditions. Changes, such as cold,

healthy body, mind, and spirit. Could You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? healthy body, mind, and spirit.

splints can be worn at night to help maintain the wrists in a neutral position, decreasing pressure on the median nerve. Be sure to try them on before you get home to ensure proper fit.

• Vibration: Check for tools that you may be using that could be causing irritation to the median nerve. Anti- vibration gloves can be purchased at hardware stores.

remedies, it is important that you see your doctor to determine that you do have carpal tunnel syndrome, as there are other causes of numbness and tingling in the hands. Once that is determined, there are various things that you can try to help alleviate the symptoms. If symptoms persist, or if testing shows changes in the median nerve, surgery can be done to relieve pressure to the nerve. If addressed early enough, symptoms of CTS can be managed. The following are a few ideas that may be helpful. • Night splinting: Over-the-counter

• Direct pressure at the wrist for prolonged periods of time should be avoided when possible. This occurs sometimes when typing, for example, or while resting the wrists on the edge of a desk.

• During the day, try to work with the wrists in a neutral position.

If you

work at a desk typing for prolonged periods, make sure that your chair is at a proper height that will allow you to type with your elbows slightly opened past ninety degrees, and your wrists in a neutral position.

If you

chair is too low or high, it will cause your wrists to be bent while typing.

• Gentle stretching or altering your tasks during the day can help prevent fatigue and improve circulation. You may want to consult with an occupational or physical therapist to determine what stretches can be helpful. If you think you have symptoms of

CTS, contact your physician. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or send you to an occupational therapist to determine if any changes can be made to your work station, whether it is at home or the office, and review a home program with you. Help is available! Kerry Raymond is an occupational

therapist (OT) and co-owner of Independence Therapy Associates in Windham. She has 19 years of experience as an OT and has been a Certified Hand Therapist for 10 years. She specializes in hand and upper extremity therapy and work injuries. Free screenings are available by appointment.

Avoiding Heat Illnesses

submitted by Jennifer Hogg, ATC, LAT, Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network Heat illness is a medical emergency that can

be easily prevented. However, once it has begun, it is essential to bring it under control as soon as possible, so as to prevent complications. Listed below are three major types of heat illness, detailing their symptoms and treatments: • Heat cramps are a type of heat injury that usually occurs after strenuous exercise or an outdoor activity. Symptoms of heat cramps are severe pain and cramps in the legs and abdomen, faintness or dizziness, weakness, and profuse sweating.

extreme dryness, wetness or wind, can trigger or worsen asthma. * Look out for new triggers – The start of the

school year brings exposure to potential new asthma triggers. Chalk dust, moldy carpeting and the class pet hamster all can be triggers for an asthmatic child. Millions also suffer from hay fever caused by ragweed which is blooming and blowing around in the fall. If your child has asthma, tell the teacher what symptoms to look for and discuss what to do. Your allergist can help you develop an asthma action plan to share with teachers and coaches to make sure your child is safe. To learn more about how to protect your child from allergies and asthma, or to find an allergist visit

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• Heat exhaustion happens when one is exposed to heat for a prolonged period of time. The body may become overwhelmed by heat when its mechanism (sweating) for keeping cool breaks down. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, weak pulse, disorientation.

• Heat stroke strikes suddenly and with little warning. Heat stroke is life-threatening! Signs of heat stroke include very high body temperature; hot, dry skin; lack of sweating; fast pulse; confusion; and possible loss of consciousness.

Following this advice can prevent these heat illnesses: • Know that once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Let our team get you back in the game.

• Do not exercise vigorously during the hottest time of day.

• Wear light, loose clothing, such as cotton, so sweat can evaporate. Wear a hat that provides shade and allows ventilation.

• Drink plenty of liquids, such as water or sports drink.

• If you feel your abilities start to diminish, stop activity and try to cool off.

• Do not drink alcohol or beverages with caffeine before exercise because they increase the rate of dehydration.

• It is easier to prevent than to treat. • Understand the signs of heat illness and don’t ignore them.

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