How Common Are They
CTS is more likely to affect women than men. It tends to develop in people between 50 to 54 and 75 to 84 years of age.
It’s also common during pregnancy, affecting up to 50% of pregnant women. This may be due to the extra fluid putting pressure in the carpal tunnel.
CTS symptoms range from mild to severe, and include:
- an altered feeling in hand, usually of the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers
- tingling that’s often worse at night or first thing in the morning
- pain in the hands – this might be worse holding an object when the hand’s elevated
- weakness and wasting of the muscles at the base of the thumb
- weakness of pinch grip
- clumsiness and dropping objects easily
- fingers feeling swollen or heavy
Most symptoms settle with time.
How To Relieve Carpal Tunnel Pain
For most people, it doesn’t matter where carpal tunnel pain is as long as they can treat it. But it may surprise you that treating the pain symptoms is only slightly helpful. But treating thecauseof the pain is far more effective and lasting. In other words:
If you treatonly the painit will come back. But if you treat thecause of the painit will eliminate symptoms forever.
Therefore, where carpal tunnelpainis your main symptom, there are 2 approaches to treating it:
- temporary pain treatmentswhich just treat pain for the time being
- permanent pain treatmentswhich treat & eliminate the source of the pain
I highly recommendyou use thepermanent pain treatmentsfor obvious reasons. I list the temporary ones below because you’ve probably tried them – with no long-term effects.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments
For more effective results, it is important to treat symptoms as soon as they begin. Taking steps to lessen the pressure around the wrist area is also crucial in preventing symptoms from worsening. Taking frequent breaks and applying heat or cold packs to the site can help pain relief. For more the more advanced stages of carpal tunnel syndrome, other treatments are available such as:
Splinting: Wearing a wrist splint while sleeping prevents your wrist from bending in odd positions relieving the numbing and tingling that is often experienced at night. In some cases, it can also be beneficial to wear during the day.
Over the Counter & Prescription Drugs: Pain-relieving medications available at your local pharmacies such as Advil and Motrin IB may be recommended to manage pain. These medications, however, do not improve this condition.
Corticosteroids: These injections are used to decrease inflammation around the wrist, reducing the pressure being applied to the median nerve.
Surgery: Carpal tunnel surgery is a procedure in which the ligaments surrounding the median nerve are cut to relieve pressure. It can be performed in both open and endoscopic settings.
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What It Feels Like
What carpal tunnel syndrome feels likefrom one person to the next is always a bit different. But symptoms usually follow a distinct pattern.
Most times, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome start outgradually. Actually, most people don’t even notice them in the beginning. For example, you may sense unusual feelings in your hand or fingers like tingling, numbness, burning or itching. Any of these can happen in any finger except the little finger . They’re often more intense in the thumb and index fingers.
You might pass off these feelings as over-tired hands. You might think you just aggravated something or over-stressed your hands while doing simple tasks. That could be the case. But it also might be the beginning of mild stagecarpal tunnel syndrome. Neglecting these warning signs can be risky.
A big problem with mild carpal tunnel syndrome is that you don’t feel the symptoms while working your hands. Instead, symptoms most often appear only when your hand isresting, like when you’re trying to sleep. That makes you think it’s not such a big deal.
In fact, the beginning symptoms seem more like an inconvenience while you’re trying to sleep. Oftentimes, patients have to wake up to shake out their numb hands. Or sometimes pain will wake them up from a dead sleep. This stage usually lasts only a couple months.Then it progresses even further.
How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed And Treated
To find out if a person has carpal tunnel syndrome, doctors and nurses ask questions about how the persons hand feels and check out the hand.
A brace or splint can help people with mild carpal tunnel syndrome. It is usually worn at night and keeps a person’s wrists from bending. Keeping the wrist straight opens the carpal tunnel so the nerve has as much room as possible. Resting the wrist will allow the swollen tendons to shrink. Medicines like ibuprofen can also help reduce the swelling.
Sometimes the doctor uses a medicine called cortisone to reduce inflammation and swelling in the carpal tunnel. This medicine is given by a shot. When the person feels better, the doctor may suggest doing wrist exercises and a better hand position when doing things like typing.
If none of these treatments help, the person may need surgery to release the pressure on the median nerve. This surgery is really quick and the person can go home the same day. Most people can get better from carpal tunnel syndrome and prevent the symptoms from coming back.
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Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Other conditions, including different types of nerve compression, can look like carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of these are:
- Arthritis.Arthritis of the wrist can cause many of the same symptoms. One key difference is that arthritis may cause visible swelling and redness.
- Cubital tunnel syndrome. Also called ulnar tunnel syndrome, this condition is due to compression, or squeezing, of the ulnar nerve in the elbow. Symptoms are more likely to affect the pinkie, ring finger, and inside of the hand.
- Pronator syndrome.Pronator syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve in the arm is compressed. Pain is typically felt in the arm but can extend to the palm, making it difficult to make the OK sign.
- Radial tunnel syndrome.Radial tunnel syndrome is due to compression of the radial nerve, which runs from the neck through the arm. It rarely causes the numbness or tingling of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pain is more likely to occur in the forearm or back of the hand.
- Tendonitis.Tendonitis of the wrist is due to inflammation of the tendons. Unlike carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis may cause swelling, and the pain tends to improve with rest.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel treatment options can ease pain, numbness, and symptoms and help prevent permanent nerve damage.
Your treatment may be fairly simple if you caught carpal tunnel syndrome early. The first steps of treatment are:
Changing your habits. You may need to change specific aspects of your work or other activities that make your condition worse.
Taking medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help. Examples are ibuprofen and naproxen. These drugs ease the pain and inflammation that cause symptoms. Putting ice on your wrists also helps with inflammation.
Wearing a brace. It helps to keep your wrist in a straight position. Wearing a brace at night or during the day, or both, relieves pressure in your wrist. This can help ease your .
Exercising. Your doctor can suggest exercises to stretch the muscles and ease pressure on the nerve in your wrist. Your doctor also may suggest that you work with a .
Getting injections. Your doctor may inject a corticosteroid into the carpal tunnel. These drugs reduce inflammation and can ease your symptoms. However, the shots often work for only a short time. Your symptoms may come back.
Severe carpal tunnel syndrome may not improve with these steps. Some people need surgery.
Most people recover well from carpal tunnel syndrome surgery. It takes a few weeks to get back to normal activities. But, its very rare for symptoms to come back after surgery.
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When Should You Call Your Doctor
911 or go to an emergency room immediately if you notice sudden loss of feeling in your arm.
- Have tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in your fingers or hand that keeps coming back or that has not gone away after 2 weeks of home treatment.
- Have gradually developed little or no feeling in your fingers or hand.
- Cannot do simple hand movements, or you accidentally drop things.
- Cannot pinch your thumb and index finger together, or your pinch is weak.
- Cannot use your thumb normally .
- Have problems at work because of pain in your fingers or hand.
How Often Is Hand Pain Caused By Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
While carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition, it has a different set of symptoms from many other sources of hand pain. There are actually several similar conditions that cause hand pain. These include:
- De Quervains tendinosis: A condition where swelling affects the wrist and base of the thumb. In this condition, you will feel pain when you make a fist and simulate shaking someones hand.
- Trigger finger: This condition causes soreness at the base of the finger or thumb. Trigger finger also causes pain, locking and stiffness when bending the fingers and thumb.
- Arthritis: This is a general term for many conditions that cause stiffness and swelling in your joints. Arthritis can impact many joints in your body and ranges from causing small amounts of discomfort to breaking down the joint over time .
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How To Avoid Small Dog Syndrome
Introduce them in a neutral location like the local dog park, walk them past one another at a distance and slowly get closer, ask your dog to sit every so often, this reinforces your dogs good behaviour and keeps you in control of the situation. Do some training with your dog including attending obedience classes.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
Contact your provider for an appointment if:
- You have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
- Your symptoms do not respond to regular treatment, such as rest and anti-inflammatory drugs, or if there seems to be a loss of muscle bulk around your fingers
- Your fingers lose more and more feeling
- You are dropping things and becoming more clumsy with your hand
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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
Physical conditions like inflammatory arthritis and the fluid retention related to pregnancy can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. However, most cases are the result of repetitive stress injury, nerve damage, or anatomical anomalies.
For example, it is not unusual for people who work in the textile and fabric finishing industry to suffer from this condition. According to a 2018 CDC report, nearly 45% of all textile and fabric industry workers report carpal tunnel syndrome. Nearly 40% of all slaughterhouse workers report it as well.
We often hear of carpal tunnel syndrome among office workers who sit behind computers all day. When office work is the culprit, carpal tunnel syndrome can usually be traced to the patients position in front of the computer. The position of the persons hands relative to keyboard and mouse, along with chair height and distance to monitor, all play a role.
Fortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome is very treatable. A typical case can be addressed with anti-inflammatory medication, a wrist brace, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Only in the most serious cases is more aggressive treatment required.
Make a point to visit us at our clinic if you are suffering from chronic pain that you think could be related to carpal tunnel syndrome. Our highly experienced team of pain doctors are here to help you feel better.
What A Doctor Can Do For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of your symptoms. Mild symptoms usually respond to conservative treatment, which involves resting the area, icing the area several times a day, taking anti-inflammatory medication, and wearing a wrist splint to ease compression of the nerve in the carpal tunnel.
Your doctor will ask you about what you do in your profession and your hobbies. Poor ergonomics at work is a big contributor to carpal tunnel syndrome, and your physician may recommend making changes to your chair, desk, keyboard, and mouse. The physician may also recommend that you see a specialized hand therapist to show you how to avoid putting compression on your wrist and to teach you exercises to give your hands a break and to facilitate proper blood flow in the area.
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Common Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Sep 6, 2021 | Pain Management
From twisting to gripping, typing, and lifting, your wrist plays a crucial role in your daily activities. Our wrists are required to perform high-level work and we often take our wrists for granted. Over time, with intense activities, they can become susceptible to pain and serious injuries.
Do you suddenly feel pain or a tingling sensation every time you move your wrists? This can be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. Affecting more than 3-6% of adults in the U.S., the prevalence of this condition tends to increase with age. This can appear in one or both of your wrists. From symptoms to causes and treatment, this article will tell you everything you need to know about carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hand
Many different types of arthritis can affect the hand. If you have any type of hand arthritis, you may notice joint pain and:
- Swelling in your wrists, fingers, and/or knuckles
- Redness and warmth in the skin over your wrist and knuckle
- Nodes or bony growths at or near the affected joints of the hands
- Symptoms that are worse in the morning or after lots of activity
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Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause symptoms that are worse in the morning, so that is not necessarily a distinguishing symptom.
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Treatment: Rest And Immobilization
Underlying causes such as diabetes or arthritis will need treatment. Then your doctor may advise resting the hand and wrist and wearing a brace to limit movement. Night use is important to prevent the wrist from curling during sleep, which can make symptoms flare up. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, along with cold compresses, may reduce pain.
How Long Will The Effect Last
Previous research suggests that corticosteroid injections still have an effect ten weeks later. They aren’t effective in the long term, though. The symptoms often return after a while.
Some people who have very persistent symptoms may consider surgery. Surgery is often more effective than regular corticosteroid treatment, but the corticosteroid injections might help to avoid surgery or put it off for a while. It is also possible to start having regular corticosteroid injections again after surgery. It isn’t clear how effective or safe this is over the long term, though. Regular injections are thought to possibly increase the risk of nerve and tendon damage as well as other side effects.
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What Happens Without Treatment
At first, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome come and go, but as the condition worsens, symptoms may become constant. Pain may radiate up the arm all the way to the shoulder. Over time, if untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause the muscles on the thumb side of your hand to waste away . Even with treatment, strength and sensation may never be completely restored.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are several tests your doctor will perform to see if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. The Tinel test involves tapping on the median nerve to see if it causes tingling in the fingers. In the Phalen test, the doctor will have you press the backs of your hands together for a minute to see if this causes numbness or tingling.
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Who Is At Risk For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
People at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome are those who do activities or jobs that involve repetitive finger use. Motions that can place people at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- High-force .
- Extreme wrist motions.
Many other factors can also contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. These factors can include:
- Heredity .
- Amyloid deposits .
Carpal tunnel syndrome is also more common in women than in men.
Research Credentials And Experience
Take time to research the doctors credentials and experience. Look for a doctor who is board certified in hand surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or neurosurgery, and who performs carpal tunnel release on a regular basis. The more experience a doctor has with carpal tunnel release, the better your results are likely to be.
Also, confirm that the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions.
Youll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.
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What You Need To Know
- Carpal tunnel release is one of the most common hand conditions requiring surgery.
- Symptoms may include tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in the thumb through ring fingers of the affected hand.
- Women get carpal tunnel syndrome three times more often than men.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive condition that can worsen without proper care.
- Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often occur during pregnancy and can be alleviated with nonsurgical treatments. Symptoms often improve after delivery, but such patients are at higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome later in life.