Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by increased pressure within the wrist, which is where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm to the hand. After enough pressure, the nerve becomes affected and you may experience tingling, numbness, and pain which often radiates into the hand and fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often the result of a combination of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel, rather than a problem with the nerve itself. Pressure on the nerve can occur for a variety of reasons such as swelling in the lining of the flexor tendons, dislocations, fractures, and even arthritis. Any of these factors can lead to the narrowing of the tunnel through which the nerve and tendons pass. If the tunnel narrows or the tendons become swollen, more pressure is placed on the nerve. Continually sleeping with your hand in a bent or curled position can lead to stress and pressure on the nerve causing the same results.
Certain types of repetitive motions such as typing can also put pressure on the nerve if the hands are not in a position that is conducive to that specific repetitive motion. Use of vibratory tools, prolonged repetitive motions and forceful exertion can also cause increased pressure to the median nerve. Pregnancy can also increase the risk of carpal tunnel due to the swelling that is often a side effect of pregnancy. Fortunately, carpal tunnel caused by pregnancy will likely disappear after the baby is born.
Your plastic surgeon will review your medical history in detail with you including any information about prior injuries. You will also be asked to explain specifically how you use your hands on a day to day basis. In order to rule out the possibility of a fracture or arthritis, you may be required to have an x-ray and in most cases, an EMG, or electromyogram, will be performed in order to check for nerve problems in your hand. Once your test results have been compiled and reviewed, your plastic surgeon will make a diagnosis and treatment plan specific to your needs.
Depending on the severity of your carpal tunnel syndrome, more conservative – even nonsurgical treatments may be used. Sometimes symptoms can be relieved by changing activities, wearing a splint to keep your wrist in the proper position, or taking anti-inflammatory medication to relieve swelling and pain. The Graston Technique® is one of several non-invasive treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome that are used at The Centre for Working Hands. The Graston Technique® uses specially designed instruments for soft tissue mobilization. This method can eliminate pain and numbness while improving overall function.
If symptoms do not improve with conservative treatment, hand surgery may be required. During surgery, your plastic surgeon can reduce pressure on the nerve by cutting the carpal ligament that forms the top of the tunnel through an incision made on the palm of the hand. Depending on the severity of your nerve damage from the constant pressure, symptoms such as numbness and tingling may take a while to subside depending on your healing time. The Centre for Working Hands offers both conservative and post-surgical rehabilitation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
To learn more about carpal tunnel treatments at The Centre for Working Hands, call or email our expert therapists to schedule your evaluation.