Have you experienced chronic pain, numbness, or tingling in your hand and arm? Carpal tunnel syndrome can become a major problem, as the median nerve in your wrist becomes pinched or compressed leading to a wide range of complications. Symptoms will only worsen over time, so obtaining a quick diagnosis and seeking treatment is the best way to get a jump start on recovery.
Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is the space at the base of your palm near your wrist that protects the median nerve and is covered by the transverse carpal ligament. The space cannot become larger or stretch, which may lead to nerve compression.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is when this space becomes too small due to swelling or irritation, compressing the median nerve. You will experience pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in your hand.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel
Commonly attributed to bad posture while typing, many fail to recognize that there are a wide variety of carpal tunnel syndrome causes. Below are some of the most common.
There are a number of chronic health conditions that can be linked to carpal tunnel syndrome. The most common risk factors are rheumatoid arthritis (RA), diabetes, an overactive pituitary gland, or an underactive thyroid gland.
Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
As the disease progresses, carpal tunnel pain will last longer and worsen during the nighttime. Suffers may notice that symptoms occur when their wrists are flexed, like when holding a phone or driving. See more of the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel below
- A decreased grip strength
- Numbness, tingling, or burning in your hand and fingers
- Unable to feel the difference between hot and cold
- Shock-like feelings that affect your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers.
Carpal Tunnel Diagnosis
No one should suffer from the uncomfortable pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. A visit to your doctor will determine if your symptoms warrant a carpal tunnel syndrome test. After a preliminary evaluation is complete your doctor will complete some of the tests we have listed below.
This carpal tunnel test is when your doctor presses down on your median nerve in your wrist to see if it causes any tingling or numbness in your fingers. It is often the first step in a comprehensive diagnosis.
Your doctor will have you place the back of your hands and fingers together with your fingers pointed downward in front of your chest. You will press until your wrists are completely flexed. A positive result typically occurs within one to two minutes.
Nerve Conduction Study
During a nerve conduction study, your doctor will send an electrical signal through your nerve. With this test, your doctor will be able to determine the severity of your disease and the type of treatment you need.
A carpal tunnel ultrasound uses sound waves to provide a visual of your bones and tissues. This picture will allow your doctor to see if there is compression on your median nerve.
A carpal tunnel x-ray is a great tool for finding any issues with your bone structure, like a fracture. It can also help your doctor see if you have arthritis or a ligament injury.
The last carpal tunnel syndrome test is an MRI. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans identify soft tissue causes for compression on your median nerve. It will also show if there is a tumor or scarring from a previous injury.
Carpal Tunnel Treatment
If carpal tunnel treatment is started early most people recover without needing surgery. Luckily, there are a wide range of treatment options available, from braces to carpal tunnel stretches.
Products that Help Reduce Carpal Tunnel
Recovering from Carpal Tunnel
Your carpal tunnel surgery recovery time will depend on the severity of the disease. Many of your symptoms will immediately disappear, but your grip strength will take two to three months or longer to return. Expect some pain and stiffness immediately after surgery.
If you are lucky enough to avoid surgery you’ll find these tips for carpal tunnel relief indispensable in keeping your worst carpal tunnel symptoms at bay.
Learning to Prevent Carpal Tunnel
Anyone suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome knows the pain, numbness, and tingling can be debilitating. Learning how to prevent carpal tunnel and treating it with exercise, splints, and other home remedies can help avoid surgery. Review the above information, or get in touch with your doctor to learn more about how to prevent this disease.