Do you work in an office and use your hands to do repetitive work, like typing on a computer? Are you experiencing itching, numbness, or tingling in your fingers or hands? These could be the early warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. If left untreated, it can result in a debilitating condition that could require surgery. It’s important to know the early warning signs and prevent carpal tunnel from developing further.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which provides feeling in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger, is compressed. This nerve travels down your arm to your hand through the carpal tunnel, which is made up of your wrist (or carpal) bones and ligaments. Repetitive stress can cause the carpal tunnel area to become inflamed, resulting in the median nerve becoming pinched.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops slowly, and becomes more severe over time if not treated. Symptoms include numbness, itching, or a tingling or burning sensation in the palm of the hand or the fingers. Often, the sensations appear during the night, as many people sleep with their wrists bent. As the condition worsens, the symptoms tend to appear during the day as well. Carpal tunnel progresses to the point where it may become difficult for you to pick up objects.
How can I prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
People who work in jobs that involve repetitive motion are at high risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. There are, however, things you can do to prevent it:
- Relax your hand frequently and use as little force as possible to complete a task
- Make a fist and then slowly unfurl your fingers until they’re straight or fan them out as far as you can
- Avoid bending your wrist at an extreme angle in either direction
- Try switching hands to do a task that takes only one hand
Also, try to keep your hands and wrists warm, which allows them to stay relaxed and enjoy more fluid movements.
What should I do if I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome?
Please make an appointment with Dr. Shults and our team at Coastal Empire Orthopedics. We can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and help develop a treatment plan for you. If your symptoms are mild, we first try minimally invasive therapies. Wearing splints or using cooling packs to ice your wrists can provide relief. Steroid shots and over-the-counter and prescription medications can also be used to address your symptoms.
In severe cases, we recommend carpal tunnel release, a common surgery that relieves pressure on the nerve.
Please call or click to schedule your appointment with us today.