Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Effectively
Do you wake up in the morning with numb hands?
Do you notice that your hands have become swollen over a short period of time?
There is a chance you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
These are just two of the many symptoms that carpal tunnel sufferers experience.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
To thoroughly understand carpal tunnel syndrome, you should be aware of basic hand and wrist anatomy.
There is a tunnel-like structure located in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. It is narrow in size. Around the bottom and the sides of the carpal tunnel lies carpal wrist bones. At the top of the tunnel is connective tissue, which is called the transverse carpal ligament.
The median nerve, which controls the feeling sensations in the (palm side) index finger, long fingers, and the thumb, travels from the forearm and into the hand via the carpal tunnel. This particular nerve also controls the muscles near the thumb’s base. There are also tendons called flexor tendons that travel through the tunnel; these tendons bend the fingers and the thumb.
When the median nerve becomes irritated, the carpal tunnel syndrome may be diagnosed. The irritation leads to the symptoms, which we will present below.
Some quick facts about carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Hand numbness and hand pain are typical signs that someone has carpal tunnel syndrome.
- More women (particularly middle-aged women) than men tend to suffer from this syndrome.
- A low percentage of the population is affected by carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Children rarely experience carpal tunnel syndrome.
Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you experience any of these symptoms (or symptoms closely related to tennis or golfer’s elbow), please call our doctors to schedule an appointment at The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia.
Keep in mind that symptoms are typically worse at night. Temporary relief can be achieved by “shaking out” the hands.
Common symptoms include:
- weak hands
- hand pain
- numb thumb(s)
- swollen hands
- difficulty handling and/or feeling small objects with the hands
- numb hands in the morning
- numb hands at night
- burning pain in the thumb, index, or middle fingers
- pain (usually numbness or tingling) that moves up the arm to the elbow
- dropping objects
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Many sufferers have no identifiable, single cause. In general, though, carpal tunnel is caused when there is pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.
There are certain risk factors linked to the syndrome’s development.
Risk factors include:
- arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- other conditions that cause wrist inflammation
- pregnancy and hormonal changes
- a wrist facture
- family genetics
- repetitive hand use over time
- endocrine disorders (i.e. diabetes and hypothyroidism)
Many people are led to believe that a person’s work environment can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. However, the link between the two is unclear.
The reason why people falsely believe that work causes carpal tunnel syndrome is because extreme wrist flexion and extension can increase the pressures within the carpal tunnel, which, in turn, applies pressure on the median nerve.
Treatment and Care Options
Carpal tunnel syndrome can become worse if treatment isn’t sought. Some treatment options include:
- anti-inflammatory medications (i.e. Advil)
- injection of a steroid medication
- physical therapy (typically after surgery)
- braces or splints
- changes in daily activities or a person’s work environment
When you choose The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia for your carpal tunnel treatment, our goal is to fix the pain without using addictive medications or invasive surgery.
Managing and Living With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Proper at-home care can provide relief for mild cases. It is recommended to wear a wrist splint. This will permit the wrist to stay in an optimal position at rest. You can wear the splint throughout the day and while sleeping, too. People usually try wearing splints for a period of 4-6 weeks.
Our doctors can speak more about other ways to manage and live with carpal tunnel.
Resources and Tools: What Should You Do Now?
Do you suffer from the common signs of carpal tunnel syndrome? If so, our doctors can help. With proper diagnosis and early treatment, carpal tunnel can be managed so you can live in a less painful way.
Just find a location nearest you to schedule an appointment.