Healthbeat 4: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- We depend on our hands for a lot of different tasks. Sometimes though, things start to happen to them that don’t quite seem normal, symptoms like numbness and tingling, which could be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. The problems start when the median nerve in the carpal tunnel is compressed, leading to pain and other symptoms such as numbness and tingling.

Repetitive work on computer keyboards in the office, or at home, and other activities can cause that compression.

Older adults aren’t the only ones affected by carpal tunnel disease. Younger people can get it too because many of them are active.

Indications you might have it, is if your hands are falling asleep at night, or after using the phone, or driving, and you feel you have to shake them out. You might be dropping things a lot too.

“You can also have pain and aching in the hands that can extend all the way up to your shoulders. And it’s usually in the palm aspect of the wrist, up into the base of the thumb, especially after you’ve done a high activity day, it might feel like an aching or a cramp that extends from the wrist, sometimes all the way up to your shoulders too,”said Dr. Kellie Crowl, CNOS Nurse Practitioner.

Dr. Crowl says there’s a spectrum of Carpal Tunnel, from mild to severe.

After medical tests are conducted, treatment might involve wearing a brace or cortico steroid injections. Surgery might be required in a severe case.

“It’s a small incision at the palm aspect of the wrist. We release that Carpal Tunnel. It’s a same day surgery. You can go home the same day. And it’s about a six-week recovery, where we have you have you take it easy, lifting only a few pounds, with occasional pinch and grip,” Dr. Crowl.

Crowl says if carpal tunnel is left untreated, you can lose sensation in your fingertips, so simple things like buttoning or putting on earrings may become difficult.

The sooner the condition is diagnosed and treated, the better.

It’s important to note, repetitive motion isn’t the only cause of Carpal Tunnel. Disease also can lead to the condition. Those causes include diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, or pregnancy because the increased fluid can cause compression on the nerve.

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