You may be experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome if you feel numbness, tingling, weakness, heaviness, and/or pain into the hand, wrist, and/or forearm. Many people describe the above occurring to their entire hand, but when paying special attention, they notice that their pinky finger is not really involved.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can develop slowly over weeks, months, and even years. Often times it presents as a mild numbness and tingling that can disturb sleep and cause you to have to want to shake the hands and fingers to “wake them up”. Over time, however, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can progress to significant pain and weakness and it becomes difficult to grip and perform your daily activities (like opening a jar for example).
Symptoms are caused when your median nerve, which passess through the narrow passageway in your wrist called the carpal tunnel, is compromised and injured. This is located in and around the region where you would fasten a wrist watch.
Your carpal bones make up the floor, and a ligament crossing over the top called the “transverse carpal ligament” forms the ceiling of the carpal tunnel. Inside the carpal tunnel lives the median nerve along with 9 tendons which help your fingers grip, and your wrist and hand to bend. The carpal tunnel is a crowded space where a lot of friction and stress can occur when working with high repetitions, high grip loads, and awkward postures.
Although the most common way to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is continued exposure to repetitive stress at work or in sport, there are a few other exacerbators or causes of which to be aware:
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Pregnancy (can cause a temporary form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because of water retention and hormonal changes)
- Use of birth control pills
- Inflammatory arthritis such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Traumatic injury to the wrist or hand (falling on an outstretched hand, fracture, sprain/strain)
Examination and proper treatment consists of determining the cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, reducing load factors which perpetuate the condition, and identifying sources of nerve irritation along the entire path of the median nerve, not just at the carpal tunnel region. In some cases special studies may be needed, like testing the health of the nerve and/or visualizing the hand and wrist.
Conservative, non-surgical care for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is determined on an individual basis and tends to include a combination of the following:
- Hands-on treatment of the soft-tissues surrounding and supporting the nerve
- Corrective exercises
- Cock-up splint to keep the wrist in the neutral range
- Ergonomic recommendations
- Postural recommendations
Many people still believe that surgery is their only option, despite strong evidence supporting the use of these conservative methods.
Please know this:
Most cases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome respond well to conservative non-surgical care like the type we provide here at the office and do not require surgery!
The need for surgery is usually determined using this criteria:
- Failing different forms of conservative non-surgical care
- Progressive nerve damage determined by special testing called NCV and EMG
- Significant signs of muscle wasting/atrophy
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome caused by a traumatic accident involving fracture or dislocation of the bones of the wrist and hand.
If you’re suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, we’re here to help. Start the road to recovery today by calling 561-318-8070 to schedule your first appointment.