If you suffer from tingling, pain, numbness, and weakness in your hands and wrists, you might feel as though nothing in the world can ease your symptoms. Your symptoms could be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, a debilitating condition that develops from repetitive use of the wrist and hand.
Carpal tunnel doesn’t go away without the proper treatment. In most cases, the condition and its symptoms can worsen with time. Because of these troublesome facts, it’s important to understand more about carpal tunnel syndrome and how it could affect your life now and in the future.
Learn More About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when you use your wrists and hands too much. The condition affects people who work in settings or participate in activities that require them to bend, flex, or rotate the wrist without rest. These repetitive actions entrap (pinch) the median nerve found inside the thin tunnel or passageway hidden within your wrist.
The median nerve allows you to feel sensations in your wrists and fingers, including pain and tenderness. Repetitive movements or actions can aggravate and inflame the tissues that surround the nerve. Over time, the tunnel swells and narrows, which places pressure on the nerve. The trapped nerve can trigger a host of strange symptoms.
At first, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be subtle enough to ignore. You might experience a slight tingling in your wrists, thumbs, and fingers. But as the condition becomes worse, so do the symptoms it produces. Your fingers and wrists can feel numb or weak at different times of the day, including at night or in the evening.
Some people may notice a tingling sensation in the palms of their hands that may or may not travel up their arms. If you do feel a tingle in your arms, it’s often during times when you need to control or hold something, such as a steering wheel or tennis racket.
Your thumbs, wrists, and arms can become so weak at times that you drop things. You may find it difficult to move or lift heavy objects at work or at home. The weakness in your limbs can be interfere with your ability to pick up and hold small objects, such as a pencil or pen.
Pain is another symptom you feel from your condition. This symptom can occur at any time, including when you sleep at night. Some individuals may also feel as though their hands and wrists are swollen or filled with fluid, even when they’re not.
Although the symptoms and problems above can make life difficult for you, you can overcome them and your carpal tunnel syndrome with the right treatments.
Find Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The first step to controlling and managing your symptoms is to see a neurosurgeon for an exam. A neurosurgeon can do a number of things to diagnose the symptoms you have, including taking X-rays and CT scans of your wrists and hands. You may also undergo a special study called nerve conduction to diagnose your condition.
A nerve conduction study allows a doctor to test the functions of your body’s peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves convey messages from your limbs to your spine and brain. When used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, a doctor will need to examine the functions of your median nerves.
During the study, a neurosurgeon will place special devices called electrodes along the nerve pathways in your arms. The electrodes can pick up and record how well the nerves respond to different stimuli. If the nerves don’t respond favorably to the tests, a doctor may go ahead and diagnose you with carpal tunnel syndrome.
The treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome can vary from person to person. However, the most common treatments for the syndrome are pain medications and physical therapy exercises. These treatments alleviate your pain as well as strengthen the muscles in your hands, wrists, and other arm tissues.
If the treatments above don’t produce good results, a doctor may perform surgery on the tunnels that contain your nerves. The surgery can remove some of the tissues inside the tunnel to create more room for the nerves to travel through. A neurosurgeon may offer other surgical treatments for your condition, and this is something you can ask about when you see them.
After surgery or treatment, you can keep carpal tunnel syndrome from affecting you by taking breaks during the day. If possible, ask your supervisor to schedule your breaks during times that bother you the most. For example, if your wrists or hands hurt in the early mornings, try to take breaks during this time.
During the night, place your arms and wrists on pillows to avoid lying on them. You want to keep as much pressure off your limbs as you can during the night. If it’s feasible for you, ask a neurosurgeon about a splint. A splint not only keeps your wrists straight but may also prevent you from lying on them.
If you’re ready to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates for an appointment.