CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) affects over 8 million Americans every year. Research reveals women are twice as likely to develop this condition as men. The overwhelming majority of cases tend to originate from repetitive motion relating to one’s work environment. CTS results from irritation of the median nerve that runs from the neck, through the wrist and into the hand. Centered in a very narrow passageway of bone and ligament known as the carpal tunnel, this nerve can become restricted or pinched when the path becomes inflamed. The pain can be very intense, causing weakness and numbness of the hand and wrist. Repetitive hand motions often lead to CTS. Some professions considered to be high risk include:

  • Accountants
  • Grocery Cashiers
  • Clerical Workers
  • Assembly Line Employees
  • Musicians
  • Chefs
  • Dentists
  • Beauticians
  • Retail Clerks

Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Early symptoms of CTS tend to appear gradually, often ignored as the result of overuse. During this period, the pain may become more noticeable during the evening, even waking you from sleep. Common early warning signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:

  • Burning sensation in the hand.
  • Tingling, pins & needles sensation of the wrist and fingers.
  • Weak hand strength.

As the condition evolves, frequency of symptoms worsen as the pain becomes more difficult to manage. Signs that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has advanced include:

  • Chronic tingling throughout the day.
  • Pain when forming a fist.
  • Difficulty grasping small objects.
  • Inability to use the thumb for simple tasks.

With the exception of the pinky, the median nerve is connected to the thumb and fingers. If any of the above symptoms are experienced in the small finger, CTS is usually ruled out. Specific testing is required to ensure a proper diagnosis.

Testing & Treatment For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Not all wrist pain is due to CTS. Often arthritis, fibromyalgia or RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) can mimic the symptoms. In order for your physician to rule out similar conditions, specific testing must be administered.

Carpal Compression Test

Your physician will place slight pressure directly on your carpal tunnel and median nerve, noting any discomfort. Additional testing involves the thumb being pressed directly into the palm in an attempt to gauge your specific pain level.

X-Rays

X-ray testing can reveal other causes of wrist and hand pain such as fractures, arthritis and diabetes. Proper treatment requires identifying what has caused the inflammation of the carpal tunnel. Simple lifestyle adjustments may be suggested including changing the type and placement of your keyboard, scheduling consistent breaks or retraining work habits and hand movements. Based on the severity of your carpal tunnel pain, your wrist may need to be immobilized for a period of time. In order to reduce inflammation, application of ice packs may also be recommended. The following treatments are commonly utilized to reduce chronic pain:

Adjustments

Gentle adjustments may be performed to your wrist, elbow and neck to help reduce discomfort, improve proper motion and decrease irritation of the median nerve. Spinal adjustments have helped reduce pain in many Carpal Tunnel Syndrome sufferers. The affected median nerve originates in the cervical spine through bones in the lower neck. When the spine is misaligned, the resulting pain can be intensified. Reestablishing proper alignment is able to decrease chronic discomfort and irritation.

Wrist Supports & Anti-Inflammatories

In severe cases, the wrist may need to be immobilized to provide support. These braces allow swelling to decrease while lessening the risk of further aggravation. In addition, ice packs can be used to decrease swelling in tandem with anti-inflammatory injections. The medication is able to directly reduce inflammation, reverting the carpal tunnel back to original size.

Massage Therapy

Chiropractic massage of the forearm, wrists and hands are also able to reduce pain resulting from CTS. Your doctor will be able to demonstrate these techniques in order for you to decrease flare-ups between office visits. Our goal at Scott Medical Center has always been to improve your overall health. If you are currently suffering from the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, we can help. Your journey to live pain free is just a phone call away. To schedule your appointment at our Scott Township location call 412-279-4522 If you are located in the North Hills, our Wexford location can be reached by calling 724-935-4300 You don’t have to live with daily, chronic pain. Let our team of medical specialists evaluate your symptoms and create a plan to increase your quality of life, pain free.