Anyone who works with their hands is subject to developing carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact you may have a hobby where you use your hands so much that you develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Anything you do repetitively for long periods of time can lead to you having this problem.
So you may be asking, what exactly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)? Simply put it is a compressive injury to the nerve in the front or anterior part of the wrist. The tunnel is formed anatomically by the bones of the wrist and houses the median nerve, which begins up in the neck and travels the length of the arm and courses through this cave-like structure at the wrist.
A few signs you may look for are tingling, numbness, and pain, within the area of the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. This can happen when there is compression on the nerve. If you are having these problems you should discuss them with your doctor. If left unchecked and ignored the compression may lead to weakness or disability in the hand. Once the nerves are irritated they may be slow to heal. If caught in time the problem may be corrected by wearing a splint. If gone untreated for too long you may require surgery. The surgery may be referred to as Carpal Tunnel Surgery or Carpal Tunnel Release. If your doctor recommends surgery for you have him/her refer you to Outpatient Services East. The procedure can be done there as it is a same day surgery procedure.
A note of interest: The Wall Street Journal reported on a study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation that people with “short, wide hands and square-shaped wrists may be more prone to CTS, especially if they are workers who perform repetitive hand motions.” According to the article, CTS affects three times as many women as men. One of the tests that can confirm CTS is an electromyogram or EMG that tests the nerve conduction velocity and determines where along the path of a nerve it may be getting injured or compressed.
Your doctor and surgeon know that it is important to try to control the inflammation and pain with other means before surgery is performed. They may encourage you to try home exercises. Hopefully the exercise will improve your mobility and strength. Ice/heat and activity modifications may help quell local inflammation at the carpal tunnel therefore improve circulation to the nerves. Please note it is important to listen to your doctor to insure you do the exercises correctly because if you don’t the activities may exacerbate the condition.
Remember the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you feel you may have CTS do not put off discussing it with your doctor. If together you decide the surgery is needed you will be taken care of at Outpatient Services East by the professional staff there. If you have any questions please give them a call. The entire staff wants you to feel comfortable about coming to them for any procedures you may need.