Conditions General Wrists

Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

You have nerves in your wrist that play very important roles in your hands. One of these nerves, called the median, runs through the wrist and can become compressed or pinched. As a result, carpal tunnel syndrome may occur. When this happens, you might experience pain, swelling, numbness, and tingling. Eventually, as the swelling gets worse, you could lose partial use of your hand.

Because carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a variety of different issues, your doctor may not be able to pinpoint your specific problem. Causes can include:

  • Swelling to tendons and their lining in the arm and wrist
  • Dislocation of the joints in the wrist or hands
  • Arthritis
  • Holding the wrist in a bent position for extended periods of time
  • Fluid retention during pregnancy
  • Thyroid problems

Again, though, your physician may not know the exact cause, but can still diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Symptoms

As mentioned, as the median nerve is put under more and more pressure, you will experience pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand. You will notice that it effects the thumb, ring, index and middle fingers specifically. Generally, these symptoms will be more noticeable at night.

Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome includes weakness in grip, hand clumsiness, and loss of sensation in the thumb.

Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Depending on the severity of the condition, different treatments can be used. For example, a doctor may recommend that you change how you use your hand and hold your wrist. You may also need to splint your wrist so that it remains straight. This will relieve pressure on the median nerve and allow the inflammation to subside.

Sometimes, your doctor may recommend that you have a steroid injection directly in the wrist. This will reduce swelling and inflammation, easing the discomfort. If your doctor has gone through all of these things or your carpal tunnel syndrome is very severe, then surgery may be needed to rectify the issue. When surgery is chosen, the procedure is simple. The surgeon will need to make an incision on the palm side of your hand and then cut through some of the ligaments around the nerve. This will relieve pressure.

Recovery from surgery will mean a few weeks of discomfort at the incision site. Numbness and tingling that you experienced from the carpal tunnel syndrome may disappear almost immediately, or it may slowly get less and less until you do not notice it anymore. You can expect several months of recovery before you regain full use of your hand. In some, isolated cases, surgery may not fully relieve all symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Many people develop carpal tunnel syndrome because they have to bend their wrists for extended periods of time. For example, people who type on a computer regularly are at high risk. However, no matter what you may do, you could develop the condition. Depending on symptoms, there are different ways your problem can be treated so that any pain or discomfort can be relieved.