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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What It Is and How to Prevent It

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We’ve all heard about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) all our lives, and most of us realize it has something to do with painful wrists.

But why does it happen, really? And is there a way to prevent it?

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The general public tends to speak about it casually, but for people who are experiencing carpal tunnel, it can mean extreme pain.

In general terms, CTS is a pinched nerve in the wrist. The phrase carpal tunnel itself refers to a space in the wrist where nine tendons and the median nerve pass from the arm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of pressure and swelling in this tunnel, which in turn increases pressure to the median nerve, located at the wrist.

Signs of CTS include tingling, numbness, a weaker grip, a tendency to drop things, and pain in the hand, fingers, and arm.

Because a combination of factors may be involved, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of CTS in each case. Some of these factors may include rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid conditions, pregnancy, diabetes, high blood pressure, and prior injuries.

Activities that can increase carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include improper use of computer keyboards, regular use of power tools or hand tools, driving a motorcycle, and repeated use of your wrist, such as playing a violin or guitar.

How to Prevent It

Without a definite cause, it can be challenging to completely prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. But you can definitely try to be proactive by using:

  • Proper posture when typing.
  • Adjusting sitting height to allow for a natural angle to the wrist.
  • Ergonomic keyboards.
  • Braces when participating in activities that strain your wrists, such as bowling.
  • Proper protection as possible if you work in the manufacturing, automobile, assembly line, or construction industry.

You should also remember to give your wrists a break from whatever you are doing for a few minutes every couple of hours. During that time, stretch and bend your wrists and hands.

CTS Treatment

CTS symptoms can be relieved by changing patterns of hand use or temporarily splinting the wrist during sleep. A steroid injection that can relieve symptoms around the nerve may be helpful as well.

In more serious cases, surgery may be required to cut the ligament that forms the top of the tunnel on the palm side of the hand. The result is an enlarging of the tunnel and therefore a decrease of pressure on the nerve.

If you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms that cannot be relieved by home remedies, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Avery Arora in West Bloomfield, Howell, Macomb, or Warren.

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General Wrists

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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Many people do not even realize that they are beginning to get carpal tunnel, as it has a tendency to start slowly. It will often begin with a numb or tingling sensation that starts in the fingers. In the beginning, this is not permanent. Sometimes you will feel it and sometimes you will not. Most of the time, you will not feel it in your little finger, but you will feel this sensation in your thumb and the other fingers.

You may begin to feel this when you are gripping something, such as a phone or tablet, when you are reading, typing, or even driving. In some cases, it can even cause people to wake up at night. While most people will only feel it in their hands and fingers at first, it is possible to have the feeling spread up the forearm. As carpel tunnel worsens, these sensations become permanent quite often.

Many who have carpal tunnel will also find that they have weakness in their hands, making it more difficult to hold onto things with a good grip. Those who have these signs and symptoms should certainly consider speaking with a doctor about what they can do next and whether surgery will be necessary.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

When the median nerve in the wrist is compressed, it causes carpal tunnel syndrome. The nerve extends from the hand, through the carpal tunnel, and up through the forearm. It may be difficult to isolate the cause of the carpal tunnel. It is more prevalent in women than in men. Certain anatomical factors can be a cause as well. Those who have smaller carpal tunnels are at a higher likelihood of injury. Other causes can include diabetes and other conditions that damage the nerves, fluid retention, obesity, and of course, factors in the workplace. In any job where there is repetitive flexing of the wrist, there is a chance of people developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Several different options are available for carpal tunnel treatment, and endoscopic surgery is one of the top choices for many. One of the benefits of getting endoscopic surgery is that the incisions tend to be small and the recovery time minimal for most types of surgery. This includes surgery to help people deal with their carpal tunnel syndrome. The surgeons will make a small incision in the hand, near the wrist, and then guide the endoscope into the hand to see the wrist. The tools utilized tend to be very small, which also go through the small incision.

During the surgery, the surgeon will cut the transverse carpal ligament as a means to help reduce the amount of pressure being placed on the median nerve. The goal is to help eliminate the symptoms that people with carpal tunnel suffer. While there are certainly benefits to the smaller incisions, endoscopic surgery may not be the right solution for everyone. You will need to speak with your hand surgery specialist about the best course of action for your own hands.

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Dr. Aroras office from my first call to schedule my appointment was friendly. Walking in the first day, I felt like I was in a nice atmosphere. Dr. Arora was EXCELLENT in taking great care of my hand injury. He was gentle and very understanding to the concerns I had about my hand. His expertise was admirable and I would recommend anyone with an injury to their hand to his office to be under his care. Because of him, I have healed faster than expected and will make an 100% recovery! Thank you Dr.

Jackie S.

I first thought I was going to have to have painful injections or surgery, but Dr. Arora suggested physical therapy may do the trick. I was doubtful, but I agreed to do it. Now, my pain is gone, and with the help of an ergonomic keyboard at work to keep my hands in the correct position, I am virtually pain free. The therapy strengthened my wrists and shoulders, and built more flexibility into my wrists.

Jerry T.

My experience with this doctor was positive from the outset. Dr. Arora was kind and spent a great deal of time with me. Staff was friendly. The office was nice and bright.

Ariel G.

Very friendly and helpful Great staff!!! Doctor Arora was very professional and did great work. I was very happy with everything!

L B.