The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes carpal tunnel syndrome as a condition that develops when the median nerve becomes pressed at the wrist. The median nerve starts at your forearm and extends into the palm of your hand. It lies inside the carpal tunnel, an assortment of ligaments and bones towards the base of the hand contained inside a narrow passageway. Without the median nerve, it would be impossible to feel some of your fingers or navigate the thumb.
Causes and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When the tendons of the fingers and wrists become irritated, typically through repetitive motions such as typing, it causes compression of the median nerve. Certain health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism, can lead to carpal tunnel as can pregnancy, injury, or genetic traits. Even if your doctor has officially diagnosed the condition, he or she may not have been able to pinpoint a single cause.
As the nerve becomes further compressed, you will probably start to notice weakness, numbness, and possibly pain in the forearm, arm, hand, or wrist. You may also drop objects more frequently due to the numbness. In severe cases, muscles located near the base of the thumb may deteriorate and you may no longer be able to tell hot from cold. This can become a true safety hazard.
Carpal Tunnel Relief Exercises to Try at Home
Doctors usually prefer and will recommend the most conservative treatment for carpal tunnel before suggesting surgery or other more aggressive treatment methods. Finger stretches are just one example. To start this simple exercise, bring your hands together as if you were about to start praying. You then want to spread the fingers on each hand as far apart as you can and bring them into a steeple position with the same fingers on each hand intersecting each other.
Shaking your hands out is another common at-home therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have ever washed your hands only to discover there’s no towel around so resorted to shaking them dry, this exercise is just the same. Try shaking your hands as if you were drying them once an hour throughout the day for one to two minutes at a time.
For the arm extended stretch, make sure your elbow is straight and extend one arm straight in front of you. Your fingers and wrists should point towards the floor. Next, gently spread the fingers on one hand and place slight pressure on the other hand that you hold in the downward position. Be sure that you are stretching your fingers and wrists as far as you can during this exercise to provide you with maximum flexibility. Hold that position for approximately 20 seconds before switching hands to give the other side the same workout.
In addition to carpal tunnel relief exercises, your doctor may prescribe medication, recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, or give you a splint to wear on the affected hand at night. Additionally, he or she may advise you to avoid activities that can irritate your median nerve. While this can be difficult if your job requires such activities, your doctor can work with your employer regarding accommodations until you feel better.
Surgical Option for Carpal Tunnel
When home remedies, medication, and splinting fail to bring enough relief, the next option is to ask your doctor for a referral to Prime Surgical Suites in Lenoir, North Carolina. We have surgeons specializing in carpal tunnel surgery on staff, which includes both open release surgery and endoscopic surgery. Each type of surgery guides the damaged ligaments back together to provide more space for them to lie comfortably with the bones without causing compression.
Carpal tunnel surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you normally go home within a few hours of check-in. To learn more about whether this procedure is right for you, ask your doctor to complete a referral form and then schedule a time for a surgical consultation.
Contact Prime Surgical Suites Today
Prime Surgical Suites in Granite Falls, NC, is an orthopedic practice that helps resolve issues relating to the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, and connective tissue. Located on Riverbend Drive, we're open five days a week. Call us today for more information.
At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.