Not all wrist pain is carpal tunnel.
Many times patients tell us that ‘they have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)' because they were told this by another provider, a friend, or they self diagnosed based on something they read on the Internet.
Our experience tells us that the diagnosis is not always accurate.
As noted above there are many areas where the nerves to the hand can be pinched or compromised. The diagnosis of CTS IS reserved only for cases where the median nerve is ‘pinched’ in the wrist.
What You Need To Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Understanding carpal tunnel a little better
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when pressure is applied to the median nerve as it travels through the wrist. This results in numbness, tingling, pain, and perhaps, weakness of the grip and pinch functions.
The median nerve can be pinched at many other locations as it courses down from the neck to the hand. This is why we examine and treat the CTS patient from the neck down!
We recognize that you have a choice of who treats your carpal tunnel syndrome. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for carpal tunnel syndrome, we appreciate the opportunity to help in the recovery.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The eight bones of your wrist form a U-shaped channel that houses several tendons and your median nerve. This channel is called the carpal tunnel. Your median nerve is responsible for sensation on the palm side of your first 3 ½ fingers.
Compression or irritation of this nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel causes the condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). CTS is the most common nerve entrapment, affecting 3-5% of the general population. Females are affected two or three times more frequently than males. Carpal tunnel syndrome most often affects adults age 45-60.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel?
CTS can be brought on by prolonged wrist flexion and/or repetitive wrist movements like supermarket scanning, keyboard use, carpentry or assembly line work. Exposure to vibration or cold may also aggravate the condition. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more common in your dominant hand but frequently affects both hands. Some risk factors for developing CTS include diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, alcoholism, kidney disease and being short or overweight. Fluid retention during pregnancy is a common cause of carpal tunnel symptoms.
- tingling or discomfort on the palm side of your thumb, index, middle finger and half of your ring finger.
- The discomfort can sometimes extend towards your elbow.
The symptoms usually begin as nighttime discomfort or waking up with numb hands but can progress to a constant annoyance. Your symptoms are likely aggravated by gripping activities like reading the paper, driving or painting.
Early on, your symptoms may be relieved by "shaking your hands out". You may sometimes feel as though your hands are tight or swollen. In more severe cases, hand weakness can develop.
If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can result in permanent nerve damage.
To help resolve your condition, you should avoid activities that involve repetitive wrist flexion, i.e. pushups. Grasping the handlebars on your bicycle will likely cause irritation of your condition. Our office may prescribe a special splint that holds your wrist in a neutral or slightly extended position that will help with your nighttime symptoms.
The American Academy of Neurology recommends conservative treatment, like the type provided in our office, before considering surgical alternatives.
Click here to start the journey to recovery. Request an appointment today.