Frequent tingling in your hand; feeling like your fingers are swollen; waking up with the feeling that you need to shake out your hands. These are all signs you may be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Your carpal tunnel is located at the base of your hand and is home to the tendons that allow your fingers to bend. It is also where you find the median nerve, which starts at your forearm and ends at the base of your hand and provides feeling to your hand and fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder that occurs when that median nerve becomes compressed. Those affected by carpal tunnel syndrome may find it difficult hold a book, drive or grasp small objects.
Your Risk of Getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you’re a woman or an older adult, you may be more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, according to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, “workers who perform repetitive tasks are at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome and include garment workers, butchers, grocery checkers, electronics assembly workers, typists, musicians, packers, housekeepers/cooks and carpenters.”
But just because you don’t fit in one of those categories doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
“If you sit at a computer all day for work, you could also be at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome due to the repetitive nature of typing on a keyboard for extended periods of time,” said Giles Becker, MD, an orthopedic hand surgeon with the Banner - University Medicine Orthopedics Clinic in Tucson, Arizona.
Not all cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be directly linked to a common cause. It could be a trait that runs in your family or be a result of an injury to the wrist, thyroid disease, overactive pituitary gland, rheumatoid arthritis or even pregnancy-related fluid retention.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment Options
According to Dr. Becker, “early diagnosis is key because carpal tunnel syndrome usually worsens over time.” Nonsurgical remedies have a better chance of working with early detection.
Nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Wearing a brace or splint: This will keep your wrist in a neutral position which will reduce the pressure on the nerve in the carpal tunnel.
- Over-the-counter medications: Pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen can provide pain relief and decrease inflammation.
- Exercises: Physical therapy may be recommended to help work the median nerve.
- Steroids: Corticosteroid, or cortisone injections, can temporarily relieve pain and inflammation and can be a good treatment for early cases.
If you’ve tried these nonsurgical remedies and haven’t experienced relief, your doctor may recommend surgery.
If scrolling through this article is causing you pain, don’t spend another minute wondering what to do.
“Not only can early diagnosis help with treatment, it may also slow down or stop the progression of the disorder,” said Dr. Becker.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome – tingling or numbness in the hand or fingers – it’s important to get examined. Set up your appointment with a Banner expert and get started today.