Carpal Tunnel

Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A hand is hooked up to nerve test machineCarpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder wherein a nerve within the wrist gets pinched. The nerve, called the median nerve, runs as a connection from the brain to the spinal cord and then down to the finger tips. When it is pinched, it stops functioning properly and can cause numbness, tingling or pain from time to time.

The carpal tunnel is made up of the wrist bones on the bottom and a ligament on the top. The median nerve passes through the tunnel, which is made up of bones and ligament, alongside the tendons that allow the fingers to move. When the wrist is held in one place for extended periods of time, with pressure being applied to the bottom such as when you spend hours typing on a keyboard without a wrist brace, the median nerve can become pinched. This happens because it is caught between two very inflexible areas, and cannot shift to avoid the pressure.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can include:

Hand and finger pain: This can feel similar to arthritis pain, meaning flare-ups of stinging pain throughout the tendons connected to the fingers, instead of through the joints. This can also occur as uncomfortable spikes of hand pain, radiating upward from the wrist and into the hand.

Numbness in the fingers: You sometimes experience a sudden onset numbness that causes the fingers to lose all sensation and you can no longer grip an object. The fingers sometimes begin to tingle and burn for a few seconds at a time.

If you find yourself shaking your hand from time to time, as if it has “fallen asleep”, you may have this syndrome. Another infrequent symptom of this condition is stiffness or pain within the wrist itself, often mistaken for arthritis pain instead of carpal tunnel symptoms. This condition can be easily prevented, especially if you type for a living, by simply doing some stretching exercises before beginning a long session, and by taking breaks more often, as well as using wrist support while working.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Tests

There are two simple tests that the doctor can do to determine whether you are experiencing carpal tunnel symptoms or just wrist pain for other reasons, like injury or arthritis.

1. Tinel’s sign is performed by tapping the median nerve. If the tingling or pain worsens when tapped, then it is a sign of carpal tunnel.

2. Phalen’s Sign is done by pushing the back of your hands together for one second, which puts pressure on the carpal tunnel. If it causes pain, then it is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Anti-inflammatory medication is typically prescribed to alleviate the pain but in severe cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure.

Worried that you may have developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? The caring doctors at Lakeland Spine Center want you feeling better as soon as possible. Call us today to make an appointment and we’ll get you back on track as soon as possible.