Many people blame increasing computer use for hand and wrist injuries and conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). While repetitive hand and wrist motions can cause this condition, researchers and hand doctorshave been unable to find a firm link to computer usage.
Learning about carpal tunnel symptoms helps individuals determine whether they might actually have CTS or a short-term injury. Getting early treatment from a hand doctor can help avoid permanent CTS nerve damage.
Exactly What is This Condition?
According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a disorder of the hand and wrist that is the result of a pinched nerve. The most common signs are numbness and tingling.
Healthcare providers do not know the complete process that must take place for development of CTS. However, it generally develops when tissues surrounding the median nerve exert pressure on the nerve, causing swelling.
This nerve runs from the wrist into the hand.
The point at which it enters the hand from the wrist is the carpal tunnel. Since this tunnel is naturally narrow, swelling or pinching of the nerve can result in the weakness, tingling, numbness or pain associated with this inflammatory disorder, says PubMed Health. While the usual cause of CTS is making the same repetitive motions, some patients were born with a small carpal tunnel.
Individuals who experience persistent or recurring hand or wrist pain, numbness, tingling or hand weakness should see a hand specialist for a diagnosis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. A hand specialist is also known as an orthopedic surgeon or hand surgeon.
Progression of carpal tunnel symptoms often follows a pattern:
- Pain in the wrist and the side of one or both hands near the palm
- Numbness, burning, tingling or a combination of them on the bottom side of the ring, index and/or middle fingers that can extend up the arm to the shoulder
- Inability to sense heat or cold and occasionally dropping objects
- A sense of swollen hands, even when swelling is not visible
- Discomfort not only during hand use, but also at rest during the night
Early treatment can prevent permanent disability. For many patients, a hand specialist prescribes non-surgical treatments like wrist splints, NSAIDs or corticosteroid injections.
If these fail to provide relief, a hand surgery doctor will consider a carpal tunnel procedure. Endoscopic surgery involves making one or two small hand or wrist incisions and cutting a ligament to free the median nerve. With open surgery, the physician makes an incision in the palm and cuts through a ligament to free the nerve.
As post-surgical healing occurs, the ligament gradually re-grows, giving the nerve more room than before the procedure.