Carpal tunnel syndrome is an orthopedic condition that occurs when the median nerve, which travels through the wrist and helps the hand and wrist function properly, gets squeezed due to continuous pressure. Carpal tunnel syndrome most often is seen in people who perform repetitive tasks that involve the hand and wrist – most commonly work at the computer. When carpal tunnel syndrome is left untreated, symptoms continue to get worse. If you think you might have carpal tunnel syndrome but aren’t sure, here are five warning signs to look for:
- Pain in the fingers.
One of the most common warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome is pain in the fingers – usually in the thumb, index, and ring fingers. Some people experience a burning pain, while others describe a sharp pain that comes and goes. Any of these symptoms should not be ignored as they will become worse over time.
- Pain and tingling in the forearm.
Another warning sign of carpal tunnel is pain or a tingling sensation in the forearm – a warning sign that too often goes ignored because people generally don’t associate pain in the arm with a nerve in the wrist. However, because the median nerve does in fact travel through the wrist into the arm and therefore, a tingling sensation can be felt in the arm, as well.
- Weakness in the hand.
Be especially concerned if you are now finding it difficult to grasp onto or hold small, everyday items such as a pencil or coffee cup. You may also notice that pulling or pushing items with the hand has become a painful chore. If you are unsure if it is carpal tunnel syndrome or, say, arthritis, try comparing the strength of your painful hand with the other hand. If you feel you have less strength or control of one hand, it may be a sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. If simple tasks like buttoning a shirt or moving your mouse has become burdensome, see your doctor right away.
- Numbness in the palm or fingers.
Unexplained numbness in your palm or fingers is a sign that something is wrong and you should get it checked out immediately, especially if that pain or numbness is in your dominant hand.
- Injury based on Repetitive Motions
Carpal tunnel syndrome is classified as a repetitive strain injury (RSI), meaning that if you have an occupation or hobby that requires long-term, identical motion in a certain part of your body, that part can become strained from overuse. If you have a job like working at a computer or manufacturing, or a hobby (like knitting or playing piano that requires you to spend significant time doing repetitive motions with your hands and wrists, you run the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If your doctor diagnoses you with carpal tunnel syndrome, he most likely will start treatment with non-invasive measures such as asking you to wear splints or other supports for your wrists, or recommending over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling and inflammation. He may also refer you to an occupational and/or physical therapist to evaluate your habits and provide exercises and regimens to build strength and reduce strain. As a very last resort and only in the most severe cases, your doctor may discuss surgical options, which have proven highly effective to overcome carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you suspect you may have carpal tunnel or another orthopedic condition, it’s time to talk to a medical professional who is trained to treat these conditions. The experts at Star Spine & Sport are highly skilled and experienced in treating conditions like carpal tunnel and look forward to building a relationship with you to ensure a lifetime of great orthopedic health. Call 303-238-4277 to make an appointment today. You can also request an appointment online.