Health in Focus: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is as painful as it is common, but there are ways to treat it.

Dr. Jay Jagannathan, with Jagannathan Neurosurgery, discusses its cause and explains how patients can find relief.

He says it all centers the medial nerve, which travels through the wrist.

“Typically the nerve travels through the wrist and that is where it gets compressed,” Jagannathan says. “It also supplies many of the muscles under the hand and many of the muscles above the thumb as well, so for patients and people that use their hands a lot, which is everybody, it can cause a lot of discomfort.”

Risk Factors

Certain movements made repetitively can put people at risk of inflaming and compressing the nerve, like flexion or extenuation of the wrist, which is here a person constantly bends it either back or forth.

Habits like bending you wrists when you type can make it more likely for your nerve to become inflamed.

People who use their hands a lot are more likely to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

“Typically what puts people at risk is excessive amount of use on the hands, such as typing on a keyboard for extended periods of time,” Jagannathan says. “Doing work that often times requires you to use your hands quite a bit. Repetitive motion usually causes it to get worse.”

Other risk factors include:

  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy (Usually gets better after delivery)
  • Health Conditions (Diabetes)

Symptoms

  • Numbness, tingling, burning, and pain—primarily in the thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers

Occasional shock-like sensations that radiate to the thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers

  • Pain or tingling that may travel up the forearm toward the shoulder
  • Weakness and clumsiness in the hand—this may make it difficult to perform fine movements such as buttoning your clothes
  • Dropping things—due to weakness, numbness, or a loss of proprioception (awareness of where your hand is in space)

Treatment

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is common, but there are ways to treat it, especially if it’s caught early.

“There are several treatments available, (but) we tend to start with the non-surgical treatments first,” Jagannathan says. “Which are going to be things like occupational therapy, hand splinting, steroid shots can be done around the nerve. The other thing that should be done is lifestyle modification. If you are working on a keyboard, look at the posture use an ergonomic keyboard things like that reduce pressure. In severe cases where those don’t work, there is a surgical treatment where you go in and release the pressure on the nerve. It is called a media nerve decompression and that is done by basically making a small incision by the base of the palm find the nerve and clipping the ligament to free it up from the nerve.”

Treatment

  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Bracing
  • Steroid Injections
  • Surgery

For more health information, contact Jagannathan Neurosurgery for neurosurgery, neurology and interventional pain management.

Northern Michigan: 989-701-2538

Upper Peninsula: 906-253-1341

Southeast Michigan: 248-792-6527

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