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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
If you suffer from symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may want to try nonsurgical treatment methods before undergoing any kind of surgery. Treatment options can include anti-inflammatory medications, modifying your workplace, and wrist splints. If these methods don’t provide relief, your doctor can recommend other therapies, such as stretches and exercises, or a corticosteroid shot. Here are some tips for dealing with symptoms and making the best decision for you.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that limits the capabilities of the wrist and hand due to pressure on the median nerve, which is responsible for motor and sensory movements in the arm and upper body. The nerve is located in a narrow passage in the palm surrounded by bones and ligaments. It provides nerve signals to the muscles to move the hand and fingers, and pressure on the nerve can cause symptoms such as numbness or weakness.
It is important to take frequent breaks while working or performing repetitive tasks, especially those that put pressure on the median nerve. Exercises to strengthen the muscles around the wrist and upper back may help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Chiropractic manipulation can also improve the functioning of the nerve and relieve carpal tunnel syndrome. Acupuncture may be used to restore nerve function and reduce symptoms. Before beginning any alternative treatments, it is best to consult a physician.
Some other causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include repetitive wrist work, autoimmune disease, pregnancy, obesity, and diabetes. When this pressure is too intense, the median nerve is squeezed and symptoms occur. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects around half of the pregnant women. It occurs most frequently in the third trimester, and half will completely disappear on their own within several months after delivery. The other half will need medical treatment. It is important to note that up to 25% of all patients with carpal tunnel syndrome will require medical treatment.
Two Conditions That Are Often Misdiagnosed As Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
One condition that is often mistaken for carpal tunnel syndrome is neuropathy, a degenerative condition of the nerves in the hands. Neuropathy has many causes and can cause symptoms similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. As many as 25% of Americans will develop some form of neuropathy during their lifetimes. However, neuropathy can occur in people of any age, and it is often overlooked in its early stages.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome vary depending on the individual, but they are typically characterized by pain and weakness in the hand and wrist. The nerve becomes compressed when the wrist bends over it, creating a narrow canal for pressure impulses. This causes a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to incapacitating pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect the hand and wrist and is usually caused by pressure on the median nerve, which provides sensation to the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. The small finger is generally unaffected.
While there are no exact numbers for carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s important to know that wrist flexor tendinitis affects approximately 10 times as many people as carpal tunnel. In fact, the two conditions can be mistaken for one another and result in unnecessary pain and suffering. Despite the similarities between the two conditions, you should seek a physician’s diagnosis as soon as possible. A properly diagnosed condition can help you get the right treatment to eliminate your discomfort.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery
There are two basic types of carpal tunnel syndrome surgery: endoscopic and open. Both methods relieve compression on the median nerve. The open technique is more invasive than the endoscopic one, but both involve a small incision in the wrist. In either case, the surgeon will separate the thick ligament over the nerve to release pressure on it. Small sutures will close the incision. Both procedures are done as outpatient surgeries and typically take less than one hour. While open release surgery requires a two-inch incision, the endoscopic technique requires only a half-inch incision in the wrist and palm.
The recovery time from carpal tunnel surgery depends on the severity of the condition. In more severe cases, the surgery may restore function and reduce pain. After surgery, patients will be able to use their hands after a few days. A few weeks following the surgery, soreness may remain, but the recovery period varies. Depending on the type of surgery performed, physical therapy may be necessary. Once the scar has healed, patients can resume normal activity.
Endoscopic surgery may be a better choice for some patients. The procedure uses a tiny camera and telescope-like device to view the interior of the carpal tunnel. This endoscopic technique is less invasive than open surgery, but recovery time is similar. Open surgery, on the other hand, involves an incision in the palm over the carpal tunnel. The surgeon will cut the ligament to free the median nerve. This procedure may result in less pain than endoscopic surgery.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Test
There are two kinds of carpal tunnel syndrome tests. One of them is known as the electromyogram (EMG) and the other is called the evoked potential test (EVT). These tests assess how well the median nerve sends electrical signals. If the signal travels slowly, this indicates that the nerve is damaged in the carpal tunnel. Both tests are short and safe. You should undergo both tests to ensure that your condition isn’t any worse than it already is.
Several symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be identified by these tests. Typically, you’ll experience numbness in the hand and weakness in the thumb’s pinching muscles. You might also notice a loss of grip strength in your fingers or wrists. Patients may also report flicking their wrists to ease discomfort. The flick sign is a reliable predictor of electrodiagnostic abnormalities in 93 percent of cases and has a low false-positive rate of less than 5 percent.
A nerve conduction study is another useful way to confirm a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. During this test, electrodes are placed on the skin of the forearm. An electrical stimulator will fire electrical signals at various points along the median nerve. If the signal travels slowly, it indicates that you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. Electromyography is also a helpful tool for diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also helpful in treating patients with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Stages Of Carpal Tunnel
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually develop in stages and they are not always noticeable. The mild symptoms will start out as minor annoyances, and then they will increase in intensity during rest breaks. Once symptoms become more severe, they will start dominating your life. However, there is no immediate cure for carpal tunnel syndrome, and in many cases the only treatment is surgery. Here are the stages of carpal tunnel syndrome, and their treatment.
Conservative treatment is usually recommended in the early stages of carpal tunnel syndrome. This may include using anti-inflammatory medications, wrist braces, or wrist guards. In the long run, you will want to use non-surgical remedies until they have had no effect. However, if your symptoms do not subside in three to four months, surgery may be recommended. However, it’s important to remember that surgery is a last resort and only for those patients with severe cases.
In the early stages, the median nerve of the hand may feel weak, numb, or tingling. Pain may also be experienced on occasion. The carpal tunnel is narrowed due to the pressure exerted by the flexor tendons on the median nerve. If this happens frequently, the nerve may become permanently damaged. If left untreated, the symptoms may progress to full-blown carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Long Does Carpal Tunnel Last
For milder cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, you can use pain relief methods like ice packs or corticosteroids to alleviate the symptoms. A corticosteroid injection will help reduce the inflammation in your wrist. It is typically applied through an injection directly into the carpal tunnel. You can also try taking corticosteroid tablets. These treatments are less effective and may have unwanted long-term effects.
Depending on the extent of your condition, a procedure can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to complete. Recovery is usually reasonable and the risk of recurrence is low. You can typically return to normal activities within two to six weeks of the surgery. Your surgeon will determine the exact timeline for returning to work or other activities. You should ask your doctor about any potential complications. General risks can include bleeding, infection, or blood clots. More specific risks can occur if your carpal tunnel syndrome is severe or requires extensive surgical intervention.
If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Initially, the symptoms may be mild and temporary. Over time, they may become more severe and cause numbness or tingling. Ultimately, this condition can lead to loss of sensation and severe muscle damage in the hand. However, there are treatments that can alleviate these symptoms and minimize long-term damage.
What Type Of Jobs Can Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you’re wondering what type of jobs are the most likely to cause carpal tunnel syndrome, consider these professions: telephone operators, cafeteria attendants, electricians, and electrical or electronics assemblers. Although hairstylists have the lowest incidence, they also often use tools that aggravate the condition. Even more problematic, most beauty-industry jobs are dominated by women. Possibly due to the size of the carpal tunnel in women’s hands, women are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
While many types of occupations can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, certain manual labor jobs are more likely to be linked to the condition. Repetitive movements can cause inflammation in the carpal tunnel, which causes further discomfort and symptomology. Symptoms of carpal tunnel include numbness, pain, and tingling of the hand, which can be accompanied by difficulty gripping or dropping objects. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary, but most workers recover completely.
Other jobs that may put employees at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome include those involving hand tools or computers. Computer work, for example, can cause the wrist to overextended and result in pain and swelling. A worker should take frequent breaks, and avoid using their hands excessively for prolonged periods. It is recommended to rotate tasks among workers and change the task of each employee. A change in a workstation can also be beneficial.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only and should not be used instead of or contrary to that of a medical professional. Before taking supplements, starting a new diet, or embarking on a new exercise regime please consult a medical or nutritional professional. The owners of “Getting Healthy After 50” are not medical professionals and are simply redistributing information that is freely available on the internet.
The video at the top of this post is from the Lake Orthopaedics Youtube Channel.