The high cost of delaying treatment

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Many families go through a check and balance process when it comes to their health. They try to determine if avoiding the cost of medical bills as well as time off from work is worth the risk of delaying medical treatment for a problem – especially when they question how serious the problem is for their long term health.

Many health experts agree that delaying needed and recommended treatments will end up costing individuals and the country far more in the long run. Some relatively minor problems, including high blood pressure, hearing loss, joint pain and carpal tunnel syndrome (link to: tend to escalate if left untreated, putting a patient at risk for more serious (and expensive) health consequences.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a good example of an ailment you might think you can live with rather than pay the cost of treating it. It’s surprisingly common, with up to 5 percent of the workforce affected, according to the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal. On average, affected workers lost 27 days of work to recuperate from CTS in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With people spending more time on their computer or online, more people are likely to be exposed to the repetitive motions that can lead to CTS.

While severe cases may require surgical treatment, studies have shown that early treatment with splinting and massage can help alleviate this painful condition. Appropriate splinting (or bracing) helps keep the affected wrist in a neutral position, minimizing pressure on the irritated nerve, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Massage can also be effective, researchers have found. A report in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies indicates massage can reduce CTS symptoms. While only your doctor can make an actual diagnosis, once you know you have carpal tunnel syndrome there are simple, low-cost steps you can take to supplement your own treatment, including:

* Adjust your posture to minimize strain. Sit up straight and don’t rest your wrists on the edge of your keyboard tray while typing; try to maintain a straight wrist position.

* Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is essential to the healthy functioning of all our tissues.

* Ask your doctor to recommend appropriate exercises to keep the wrist flexible.

* Wear a wrist brace, even when you sleep. A special night brace is best.

While you can purchase a low-cost brace in most drugstores, a better option might be one that combines bracing and massage benefits, such as the IMAK SmartGlove. Made of washable, breathable cotton material, the SmartGlove encourages proper hand and wrist position to help alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms, and an ergoBeads pad cushions your wrist and improves circulation with a massaging effect.

It makes sense to save yourself long-term pain and money by addressing the problem early. Consult your doctor if you experience wrist pain that might be carpal tunnel syndrome.