If you do repetitive work with your hands and frequently experience numbness and tingling in them, you may have developed carpal tunnel syndrome. This is the inflammation of a nerve in your hands and wrists. It can become so severe that you can't pick up and hold anything with your hands. Here is what causes this condition and how it can be treated.
Irritation of the Median Nerve
The median nerve runs from your elbow through the wrist and into the palm of the hand. It passes through a small channel of bones in the wrist, called the carpal tunnel. When the nerve is irritated in the wrist area, it becomes inflamed and rubs against the bones in the tunnel. This causes more irritation, pain and numbness, which extends down into the palm and up into the elbow. Some of the ways the median nerve becomes irritated in the wrist include:
- diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis, which affect the muscles and bones in the wrists
- repeated movements of the wrists, which put stress on the nerve
- pressure on the wrists, such as when using a keyboard and resting the wrists on a hard surface
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You'll have a number of symptoms as this nerve irritation continues and gets worse, such as:
- numbness and tingling from your elbows down into the palm of your hands
- increasing weakness in your hands, making it hard to grasp onto anything
- throbbing pain that radiates from your wrists into your palms
The condition can occur in one or both wrists at the same time. When it becomes severe, carpal tunnel syndrome can render both hands useless to do anything with them.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A neurological services and treatment clinic will need to evaluate the causes and extent of the condition and recommend treatment. Your doctor will first try non-invasive approaches to reduce the pain and numbness. If those fail to give you enough relief, surgery will be the next option.
Some of the non-invasive approaches include:
- anti-inflammatory and pain medication to relieve the pain and reduce the swelling in the wrists
- physical therapy on your hands and wrists to increase the circulation and reduce swelling in the area
- braces to hold your wrists in a neutral position, which takes pressure off of the median nerve
Surgical treatment of this condition includes:
- reshaping of the bones in the wrists to enlarge the carpal tunnel
- removal of bone damaged by disease in the wrists
You may also wear wrists braces for several weeks after the surgery to prevent further damage to the median nerve as the bones and tissues heal. To learn more, contact a Dr. like Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D.