In 2010, an estimated 3.1% of adults aged 18 to 64 had carpal tunnel syndrome. The percentage increased with each age group, affecting people between the ages of 40 and 60 most. Today, it’s estimated that anywhere between 4 and 10 million people deal with this nerve condition.
Below, Colorado Springs Neurological Associates are sharing more about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and management options for carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you or someone you love suffers from carpal tunnel pain in Colorado, contact Colorado Springs Neurological Associates today. You may call our Colorado Springs office at 719-473-3272 or schedule an appointment by filling out an online form.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, numbness, or weakness in the hand and/or wrist. Also called median nerve compression, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve that runs the length of your forearm becomes pressed or squeezed at the carpal tunnel, a passage in your wrist.
Signs and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When ligaments and tendons become irritated or swell at the carpal tunnel, it narrows, and the nerve is compressed, causing tingling, pain or numbness.
Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Burning, itching numbness, or tingling in the fingers, especially the thumb, index, and middle fingers
- Weakness in the hand
- Difficulty grasping or holding objects
- Tingling that travels up into the arm
Symptoms of carpal tunnel usually start gradually and affect the dominant hand first. Sometimes symptoms can appear in one or both hands during the night. Over time, symptoms can become worse and lead to reduced grip strength, muscle cramping, less feeling in your fingers, and less strength and coordination.
Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Many people don’t know what caused their carpal tunnel syndrome. Rather than a problem with the median nerve itself, it can arise from multiple contributing factors that affect the nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel.
Repetitive motions and use of the hand and wrist, such as typing, writing, manual assembly line work, sewing, or cleaning can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. A sprain or fracture, tumor or cyst, and existing mechanical problems in the wrist joint can lead to it as well.
Some conditions can make some people at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Hypothyroidism, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, pregnancy and other conditions that affect the body’s nerves may make one more susceptible to carpal tunnel. Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome
To diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, your physician will use certain tests to rule out other possible causes of hand and wrist pain. Diagnosis will likely include learning about your medical history, followed by a physical examination.
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, and neck. They’ll see if you’ve lost any feeling in your fingers and check the strength of your hand muscles. They may also run reflex and pressure tests on your median nerve. If needed, your doctor may use X-rays or ultrasound imaging to diagnose the problem.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome
If an underlying condition such as arthritis or diabetes is causing or contributing to carpal tunnel, that condition should be treated first. If your symptoms are severe, surgery may be your best option for finding relief. Carpal tunnel release involves cutting the ligament to relieve the pressure on the nerve. It is one of the most common types of surgeries performed in the United States.
Other non-surgical treatments include lifestyle changes, exercises, and alternative therapies. Wearing a wrist splint at night and avoiding activities that trigger or worsen symptoms can provide relief. Applying cold packs and taking over-the-counter pain medicines can reduce pain and swelling. Range-of-motion strengthening exercises and yoga can improve grip strength and ease pain as well.
Expert Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment in Colorado Springs
Stretching and strengthening exercises, using proper wrist position and posture, and taking frequent breaks to rest the hands and wrists may help keep carpal tunnel syndrome from becoming worse. It can also prevent nerve scarring after carpal tunnel surgery.
If you are experiencing mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, Colorado Springs Neurological Associates can help. Our clinicians are experienced in diagnosing, treating, and managing various neurological disorders such as carpal tunnel. We’ll work with you to choose the best treatment for you, whether it’s steroid injections to provide relief, surgery or occupational therapy and changes to daily activities.
To schedule an appointment with us today, please call our Colorado Springs office at 719-473-3272 or contact a representative online. You may also like and follow the CSNA Facebook page for news updates and resources.