Posted on: 13 October 2015Share
It starts as a mild pain in your wrists as you work but quickly develops into numbness and tingling in your hand. Eventually, you find it difficult to grasp anything and hold onto it. These are the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome and, if not addressed, can leave you without the use of your hands. Here is what is happening to your wrists and hands and the help available to you.
An Irritated Nerve is the Cause
The median nerve extends down your forearm, through your wrist and into your palm. It must travel through a small channel, the carpal tunnel, created by the bones in your wrist. The nerve can become irritated a number of ways in this area:
- abnormal growths, such as bone spurs, can rub on the nerve
- degeneration of the bones in the wrist from osteoporosis can put pressure on the nerve
- pressure on the nerve through constant use, such as when typing for long periods, creates irritation of the nerve
Any prolonged irritation of the nerve causes inflammation and pain. If this continues, you'll experience numbness and tingling in your wrist and hand and the lack of hand strength. In severe cases, your hands become unable to grasp normally.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Your doctor will try a number of approaches to reduce the irritation of the nerve. The first attempts will be non-invasive such as:
- Physical therapy - This is used to strengthen the muscles in the wrist and hand to better support the nerve without irritation.
- Steroid injections - This is a short-term treatment which immediately reduces the inflammation around the nerve in your wrist.
- Wrist splints - These devices hold your wrist at the proper angle to remove pressure from the nerve.
Recovery from carpal tunnel syndrome can take weeks with these non-invasive treatments. Should they fail to give you enough relief, surgical intervention is the next step. This can include:
- Removal of bone spurs in the carpal tunnel that are irritating the nerve.
- Widening of the carpal tunnel to allow the nerve to move freely.
- Reconstruction of the carpal tunnel due to degeneration of the bones in the wrists.
Once the irritation of the nerve is prevented by the surgery, the inflammation decreases and the pain goes away. You'll regain normal movement and feeling in your hand. When the wrist has healed from the surgery, you'll begin physical therapy to build back up the strength and flexibility of your hand.
For more information, contact Hand Rehabilitation Specialists or a similar organization.