What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage situated on the palm side of the wrist that connects forearm to hand. Nerves and a tendon crosses through this passageway. The compression of the median nerve in this area is carpal tunnel syndrome. The compression can be caused by multiple factors including underlying health problems like diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, fluid retention like in pregnancy, autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, fractures or trauma to wrist, or patterns of hand use.
What Are The Symptoms?
The most common symptoms are numbness, tingling and pain in the thumb and first three fingers of the hand. Often, the symptoms are more intense at nighttime or during activities of gripping and grasping, like reading a book or driving a car. Over a period of time, the hand may become weaker, as the median nerve also supplies some of the muscles in hand.
How Is It Diagnosed?
A diagnosis is made by a detailed physical exam, but nerve conduction studies and electromyography can confirm the condition. These tests are performed in-office, putting electrodes and very thin needles in the tested muscle area.
How Can I Prevent It?
There is no method, treatment or exercise that has been proven to prevent carpal tunnel. You can, however, take steps that will ease stress on your hand and wrist:
- Take breaks from work. Stretch, massage, and squeeze your hands now and then to give them some relief. If you do hard work with your hands or operate moving machinery, breaks are even more important.
- Use correct form and posture. Make sure you work area is set up to be as comfortable and ergonomic as possible. Make sure your desk, chair and computer are at the correct respective heights to avoid straining. Even your back and shoulder posture can affect the nerves in your hands and wrists.
- Relax! Take a breath and don’t put so much energy into your hand movements. Only use what force is necessary to get the job done. You may find that you can go a little lighter on your keyboard, for instance.
- Keep your hands a comfortable temperature. Especially in the winter months, it is important to keep your hands warm, especially while you are working with them. This will help ease stress on your hands and will keep you more comfortable as well.
If you have or start to notice symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, book an appointment right away with your physiatrist and nerve specialist. These conditions will get worse the longer they go untreated and could result in further damage and much worse pain and discomfort.
Also, if you have previously seen a physician for carpal tunnel syndrome and are seeking a second opinion, NY Bone & Joint Specialists have the expertise and experience you are looking for.
Dr. Leon Popovitz and Dr.Michael Mizhiritsky, along with their team of best-in-class orthopedic physicians, are known for their exemplary orthopedic surgical skill and best-rated physical medicine and rehabilitation program. This, along with their top in-office physical therapy and long-term sports rehabilitation processes, leads to athletes of all levels returning to their top physical potential.