In today’s busy world, plenty of everyday errands require dexterity and meticulous focus in order to properly handle tasks.
It’s not uncommon, but definitely an issue, when people run into issues with how their hands can comfortably operate. One condition that affects over 2 million Americans every year is known as carpal tunnel syndrome, or simply carpal tunnel. Carpal tunnel is when a person feels either pain, numbness or tingling in their arm or hand; it is usually caused when the median nerve, one of the major nerves in the hand, is squeezed or compressed to the point of discomfort. When the tissues around the median nerve known as the synovium, swell up, it puts pressure on the nerve that it is not used to and causes a range of disruptive symptoms.
There are several potential causes for carpal tunnel syndrome, some of which can be prevented by lifestyle changes, while other factors occur without any specific factors. Heredity can be a large factor, as different traits in family lines can lead to people having smaller carpal tunnels. However, other causes are due to specific daily behavior, such as repetitive hand use, the position of your hands and/or wrists while performing tasks, or having certain medical conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
Besides the obvious symptoms of numbness and pain that may arise in the hand, patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome may feel pain that travels up their arm, a sense of weakness or clumsiness with your hands, and constantly dropping things. Although these symptoms start off mildly, if left untreated for a prolonged amount of time, they can grow in severity or in how long they stick around for.
There are several ways to see how serious your case of carpal tunnel can be. Doctors can screen you through a series of tests to look for specific areas of atrophy and weakness, while tests like ultrasound and X-rays can help you search for compression and/or the reasons that led to you getting carpal tunnel in the first place. Once these procedures are done, the recovery process can be handled in a variety of ways. There is a range of options that do not require surgery; including temporarily wearing a brace or splint to restrict movement at night, taking normal medications like ibuprofen, changing one’s behavior during certain activities or receiving corticosteroid injections. In extreme cases however, surgery may be necessary.
There are two main surgeries meant to fix carpal tunnel: open carpal tunnel release and endoscopic carpal tunnel release. The former involves making a small incision in your palm and dividing the roof of the carpal tunnel, which will increase the tunnel’s size while decreasing pressure on the nerve. Endoscopic carpal tunnel release is similar to open carpal tunnel surgery, except in this case, two small incisions are made in the skin and a mini camera is inserted so doctors can see the affected areas. The surgeon proceeds to cut up the transverse carpal ligament, which is meant to have a similar outcome to dividing the carpal tunnel’s roof. Though these two surgeries are intended to have the same result of fixing carpal tunnel syndrome, conversing with your doctor will help you identify more differences and which surgery is meant for you.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very irritating condition, but we’re prepared to provide quality care and treatment to our patients. Here at Alliance Orthopedics, we’re dedicated to helping you Get Better Faster. Our doctors are experienced in a highly expansive range of treatment methods, with specialists in pain management, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. We are determined to find the best ways to help treat your symptoms as soon as possible. For more information on how we can help you, feel free to contact any of our four main offices! We look forward to hearing from you!
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. OrthoInfo. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/.