A Patient’s Guide to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

man has pain in wrist

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an orthopaedic condition that affects the hand, wrist, and forearm. Unless you begin working with an orthopaedic doctor on a treatment plan, your symptoms are likely to grow progressively worse. For some patients, symptoms are severe enough to warrant orthopaedic surgery.

Causes and Risk Factors

The carpal tunnel is a very narrow structure within your wrist, through which the median nerve passes. When the space within the carpal tunnel is narrowed, the median nerve becomes compressed. This is the underlying cause of carpal tunnel syndrome ; however, there are many potential risk factors that can cause compression of the nerve. For example, some people are simply born with smaller carpal tunnels. Others have additional medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, which can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Other risk factors include repetitive movements, alcoholism, obesity, cyst development, and fluid retention.

Signs and Symptoms

When you visit an orthopaedic doctor, bring a list of all of your symptoms. If you do indeed have carpal tunnel syndrome, that list is likely to include pain of the wrist, hand, and forearm, pain that extends to the elbow, loss of grip strength, and weakness in the hands. You may have numbness and tingling in the area, you may notice that you frequently drop objects, and you might have difficulty with coordination in your fingers.

Orthopaedic Treatment Options

Your orthopaedic doctor is likely to recommend a number of conservative treatment options, such as ice and heat therapy, physical therapy, and wrist splinting. Some people find relief with yoga, while others must rearrange their work stations so that they are more ergonomically correct. In severe cases, orthopaedic surgery may be required to relieve the pain.

The orthopaedic doctors of MK Orthopaedics can help you discover simple lifestyle modifications to improve your carpal tunnel syndrome and prevent serious damage to the nerves. When conservative treatment measures aren’t sufficient to relive your pain, you can consult with one of our orthopaedic surgeons about surgical treatment. Take the first step toward relieving your pain and restoring function by calling us at (815) 741-6900.

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