Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes, Symptoms and Solutions
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of the most common problems affecting the hand! Caused by pressure put on the median nerve and tendons within a space in the wrist called the “carpal tunnel,” it can cause tingling, numbness and weakness in the side of the hand near the thumb. If left undiagnosed or untreated, it can evolve into a more painful condition and some loss of function.
Those at the highest risk of suffering from CTS are often people involved in jobs, sports or hobbies that require the repetitive use of the fingers, hands and wrists. Think office workers using computers keyboards, factory workers on assemblies lines, construction workers wielding jack hammers or athletes such as tennis players who use extreme wrist motions. But these are not the only people who may suffer from CTS. Researchers have found, over the years, that heredity, old age, wrist fractures and/or dislocations, as well as some diseases can present scenarios where carpal tunnel syndrome can occur.
Early symptoms include numbness in the hand while sleeping, tingling or pain in the fingers, decreased feeling in the fingertips, difficulty using the hand for everyday tasks such as writing, grasping objects, holding a book or using a computer keyboard. As symptoms worsen, weakness in the hand is more prevalent, intricate tasks such as buttoning a shirt or clasping jewelry become more of a challenge and dropping objects is not uncommon.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from any of these symptoms, a visit to an orthopaedic specialist is in order. During your appointment, he or she will likely discuss symptoms, medical history and conduct an exam which may include manual tests, order x-rays and/or perform a nerve conduction study
If a diagnosis of CTS is ultimately determined, the course of treatment may vary. Non-surgical treatments include wearing a wrist brace or splint, taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or receiving cortisone injections. Modifications to ease symptoms such as changing the positioning of a desk, chair and/or computer keyboard in the work space are often recommended; and a series of visits to a hand therapist for physical therapy may also be prescribed.
Surgical treatments, generally recommended when CTS does not respond to previous methods (or has already become severe) include out-patient surgery to increase the size of the carpal tunnel to relieve pressure on the median nerve and tendons. Recovery time is fairly rapid with brief discomfort (between 24 to 72 hours) and stitches removed in as little as 10 to 14 days. Hand and wrist use is then gradually restored through physical therapy manipulation and therapeutic exercises.
If you are dealing with an orthopaedic issue, or if you run into problems in the future, the caring physicians and staff at Orthpaedic Specialists of Connecticut offer state-of-the-art treatment and care to help you get back to living your best life. Call us to schedule an appointment at 203-775-6205 when you are seeking relief from the pain.