Do you feel pain or tingling in your hands or fingers, or do they feel numb sometimes? Perhaps you shake your wrists; sometimes, the feeling disappears but returns hours later. You may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
The carpal tunnel sounds exotic, but it’s a narrow channel in your wrist through which a major nerve must pass. Your median nerve runs from the top of your armpit down your arm through your wrist and into your hand. The nerve controls movement in your fingers, hand, wrist, and forearm.
If the tendons around the nerve are irritated and swollen, the carpal tunnel can become compressed, putting pressure on the nerve. The pressure causes pain, numbness, and tingling sensations.
At Coastal Empire Orthopedics, our board-certified orthopedic surgeon treats many patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Most cases can be treated conservatively and don’t require surgery, but if you need surgery to release the problematic nerve, we perform this relatively simple operation.
Does carpal tunnel affect young adults? Who is at risk?
Most young adults don’t have to worry about carpal tunnel, but it can affect you at any age. It’s most common in those between the ages of 40 to 60.
Researchers have identified the following risk factors for carpal tunnel, although scientists don’t know why it occurs.
Researchers say that some people have very narrow carpal tunnels. This anatomical difference may run in your family, like deep-set eyes or a widow’s peak. A small carpal tunnel could increase your risk of the syndrome because your body has less room for the nerve to pass through your wrist.
Repetitive hand motions
Do you work at a job or have a hobby that requires you to repeat the same motions repeatedly using your fingers, hands, and wrists? Perhaps you’ve been a lifelong motorcycle rider or use a hammer or jackhammer at work.
Maybe you type on a standard keyboard or use your phone constantly. Researchers now think carpal tunnel could develop from phone usage, although not enough research has been done to date on the topic. Repetitive hand motions can irritate the tendons in your wrist, putting pressure on your median nerve.
Researchers have found that pregnancy is a risk factor for carpal tunnel, although the symptoms usually recede several weeks after childbirth. Hormonal changes and fluid retention could cause the tendons to swell, leading to median nerve compression.
Certain health conditions
Some health conditions, including the following ones, are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid gland imbalance
- Alcohol addiction
- Trauma to the wrist
Why it’s important not to ignore carpal tunnel syndrome
If left untreated, carpal tunnel usually doesn’t go away independently. It can progress and cause permanent nerve damage. We treat carpal tunnel syndrome whenever possible with conservative medical treatment such as a wrist brace, medication, injections, and physical therapy.
Call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment through our online portal today if you have unexplained hand or wrist pain or other musculoskeletal problems.