If you are experiencing numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands or wrists, you should know that these symptoms are often associated with a condition known as “carpal tunnel syndrome.”
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common forms of median nerve compression and affects many Americans. It can be a debilitating condition that limits your ability to fully carry out your normal activities.
In this article, we will discuss what carpal tunnel syndrome is, what causes it, its symptoms, what treatment options are available, and where you can go in North Dakota for the expert treatment of this condition.
What Is the Carpal Tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that is located on the palm side of your wrist. This tunnel is made up of bones, ligaments, and tendons. It is where the median nerve passes through the arm and wrist. The median nerve is responsible for carrying messages to and from your brain that control movement and sensation in your hands and fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed or squeezed as it passes through the narrow passageway of the carpal tunnel. This compression of the median nerve can lead to a variety of symptoms, including numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and wrist.
Why Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Becoming More Common?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming more common as more people engage in activities that require repetitive hand and wrist movements. Office workers who spend long hours typing on a computer keyboard are especially susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. One study published in the National Library of Medicine has shown four or more hours per day of smartphone use is associated with the development of the condition.
Older adults are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome due to age-related wear and tear on the tendons and ligaments in the wrist. Others at risk are individuals with a family history of carpal tunnel syndrome, women, and those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Rheumatoid arthritis’ inflammatory nature can increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, as inflammation in the wrist can narrow the carpal tunnel passageway and irritate the median nerve faster than normal.
What Leads to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often caused by repetitive motions that put pressure on the median nerve. Examples include the following:
- Frequent, repetitive hand movements such as typing or using a keyboard for extended periods
- High-force activities like hammering or using tools that require significant gripping
- Awkward hand positions, especially those that involve bending the wrists excessively
- Forceful hand movements, such as lifting heavy things
- Hand-arm vibration or prolonged exposure to hand-arm vibration, such as using power tools or vibrating machinery
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can vary from person to person, but commonly include numbness and tingling in the hand, especially in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Pain in the wrist and hand can also occur, and some people experience weakness in the hand or a sensation of the hand “falling asleep.” Symptoms often occur at night and can disrupt sleep.
When diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor will review the patient’s occupation and lifestyle, and inquire about the specific location where they experience sensations. They will also ask about any pre-existing factors that increase the patient’s risk for the condition.
It is important to note that there are other conditions that can exhibit similar symptoms to carpal tunnel syndrome, which calls for a thorough study of the symptoms in order to ensure diagnosis accuracy.
How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the condition. Mild cases can often be treated with rest, wrist splints, and modifications to daily activities and the patient’s workstation to avoid further irritating the median nerve.
Wrist splints are sometimes recommended to help keep the wrist in a neutral position while sleeping or during daily activities. Ice packs or warm compresses can also provide relief for the pain and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
In more severe cases, steroid injections or surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment in North Dakota
The orthopedic surgeons at The Bone & Joint Center in North Dakota are highly experienced in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. We may need to perform a nerve conduction study to check whether it is carpal tunnel syndrome or something else. Our expertise allows for an accurate diagnosis, customized options for treatment, and the inclusion of hand therapy in your rehabilitation.