What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
A nerve disorder that causes pain, loss of feeling and loss of strength in the hands. It may greatly decrease athletic performance in sports that require strong hand or wrist action, such as tennis, racquetball, squash, golf, skiing, weightlifting, baseball, football, horseshoes, bowling, archery, rowing, wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, hockey, judo or water skiing.
How do you prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Take a break at least once and hour when doing repetitive work involving hands. Wear a wrist brace such as The Bodyguard™ Custom Carpal Tunnel wrist brace.
What are the signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are:
- Tingling or numbness in part of the hand.
- Sharp pains that shoot from the wrist up the arm, especially at night.
- Burning sensations in the finger.
- Thumb weakness.
- Frequent dropping of objects.
- Poor performance in any sports that requires a strong grip.
- Inability to make a fist.
- Shiny, dry skin on hand.
What are the main causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The main cause of a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is pressure on the median nerve of the wrist caused by swollen, inflamed or scarred tissue. The sources of pressure include:
- Inflammation of the wrist tendon sheaths, a likely result of any sport that requires gripping or squeezing.
- Fracture of the forearm.
- Sprain or dislocation of the wrist.
- Work that requires strong hand or wrist action (computer, factory and cashier work, some types of music).
What are the contributing factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The contributing factors include:
- Hypothyroidism(underactive thyroid gland).
- Raynaud’s disease(a circulatory disorder).
How can I determine if I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Use your own observation of symptoms. For a simple test, place the backs of your hands together with your fingers pointing straight down and your elbows pointing straight out to the side(wrist are at a 90 degree angle). If the symptoms are brought on by you holding this position for one minute, you most likely have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Electrophysiologic nerve tests (they record the electrical activity of muscles) and x-rays of the hand and wrist.
What is the normal course of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is usually curable and sometimes spontaneously, sometimes with surgery. Surgery is usually needed if muscle is beginning to atrophy (waste) or if nerve changes develop. If pregnancy is the cause, the problem usually clears up after delivery.
What is the possibility of surgery correcting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Surgery may be recommended to free the pinched nerve. It provides almost complete relief from all symptoms in 95% of patients. The procedure may be done on an outpatient basis.
Are there any complications with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Some possible complications can be:
- Permanent numbness and a weak thumb or fingers in the affected hand.
- Permanent paralysis of some of the hand and finger muscles.
What treatment is recommended for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Your doctor’s instructions must be followed closely. Surgery and or medications may be prescribed based on your doctor’s evaluation. Conservative treatment should usually be tried first. Sometimes the discomfort can be relieved by shaking the hands or dangling the arms. If you awaken at night with pain in your hand, hang it over the side of the bed; rub it or shake it. Wearing a protective splint on the affected wrist may be recommended. If you work at a computer terminal. Be sure desk, keyboard and chair are at the proper ergonomic height. Lastly, take a break once an hour from repetitive use that may have caused the disorder.
What medications, if any, are recommended?
Your doctor may prescribe aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation. He may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, Cortisone injections at the wrist to reduce inflammation or vitamin B-6 injections or tablets.
What activity is proper during rehabilitation and recovery?
Stay as active as your strength allows. If surgery has been necessary, allow 2 weeks for recovery. Some exercises may be prescribed for the hand. Eat a normal, well balanced diet.
Call your Doctor if:
Be certain to call your doctor if you have symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that persist longer than 2 weeks with fever). New , unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.