Have you spent extended time typing, using hand tools or power tools, or even playing the piano? Then you may understand the strain that these activities can place on your hands and wrists. Prolonged exposure to these factors, along with others, can cause inflammation and swelling in the wrist, and sometimes even restricted blood flow. Over time, the excess pressure may cause a condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that is characterized by symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arm, hand, and fingers. Simply stated, these symptoms are caused by a pinched nerve, with CTS being the most common condition of its kind. In the majority of individuals affected by this condition, the symptoms worsen over time. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to long-term wrist health, so it is important that you visit a doctor for evaluation if you suspect that it affects you.
During a physical examination for CTS, your physician will gather information from you about any pre-existing conditions, medical history, and overall health. They will then perform a series of light physical examinations on your wrist and hand to determine if you exhibit any key symptoms of the condition. Additional tests, such as an ultrasound or an x-ray, are commonly performed to further assist your physician in assessing your condition.
Who is at risk of CTS? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, women are three times more likely than men to develop the condition. Additional risk factors include diabetes, assembly line work, and data-entry work that requires excessive typing. Typically, CTS does not onset until adulthood.
Luckily, there are easy steps you can take to help prevent the onset of CTS. A few of these include physical exercises of the hand and wrist, stretching, breaking up long spans of stressful wrist activity, and maintaining proper posture and wrist position. Even wearing fingerless gloves can help keep the hands warm and limber.
If CTS is detected and treated early on, chances are higher that the condition can be alleviated without surgery. A few of these treatment options include wearing a nighttime brace or splint, anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen), changes in activity, hand and wrist exercises, or steroid injections.
In more serious cases of CTS, orthopedic surgical procedures may be recommended by a physician in order to relieve the symptoms. In fact, surgery may be necessary to mitigate any irreversible damage to your muscles. Fortunately, the majority of patients who undergo surgery report improvement in the symptoms of CTS. The recovery process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, and will likely require a splint and physical therapy treatments.
Hand and wrist health are vitally important in everyday activities. It is never ill-advised to take appropriate measures to protect against CTA. Addressing any concerns you may have with a physician at Prairie Orthopaedic can be extremely beneficial to the long-term health of your hands and wrists. Call us today to schedule your appointment!