Is Your Hand Talking to You?

Is Your Hand Talking to You?

According to the American Family Physician, carpal tunnel syndrome affects approximately 3% to 6% of all adults with 50% of these cases reporting bilateral symptoms.  That means there are an estimated *13,500 to 27,000 people suffering from this syndrome in the greater Des Moines area alone.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel Syndrome is essentially a pinched nerve in the wrist. There is a space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forename into the hand.  Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when pressure builds up from swelling in this tunnel and puts pressure on the median nerve.

How do you get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Although the cause is not usually determined, it can include trauma, repetitive maneuvers, certain diseases, and pregnancy. Symptoms are related to compression of the median nerve, which results in pain, numbness, and tingling.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weak Grip

How is it Diagnosed?

A hand evaluation, including a historical review of medical conditions, hand use and misuse, and any prior injuries is important in diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome.  An x-ray may be taken to check for arthritis or fractures.  In some cases, laboratory tests may be done. Electrodiagostic studies can also help confirm the diagnosis and check for other possible nerve problems.

What are some of my treatment options?

Management of carpal tunnel syndrome should be based on severity. Some treatment options are:

  • Changing patterns of hand use
  • Keeping the wrist splinted in a straight position
  • Wearing wrist splints at night
  • Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel

When symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be need to make more from for the nerve.  Pressure on the nerve is decreased by cutting the ligament that forms the top of the tunnel on the palm side of the hand.

What should I expect after surgery?

Following surgery, soreness around the cut area may last for several weeks of months. The numbness and tingling may disappear quickly or slowly.  Recovery may take several months.  Carpal tunnel symptoms may not completely go away after surgery, especially in severe cases.

References include:
*U.S. Census Bureau and Wikipedia
*2015 American Society for Surgery of the Hand

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