From an interview with
Christopher Zust, MD
McLeod Neurological Associates
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition of the median nerve, which is one of the nerves that goes to the hand. That nerve actually goes through the carpal tunnel, which is a tunnel in the wrist created by the wrist bone, as well as some connective tissue that goes across the wrist. The nerve can get swollen and irritated, and then, because there’s no space for that nerve to swell, it ends up getting pinched or compressed.
Common symptoms of carpal tunnel include sensory disturbances, pain, tingling, numbness, and the ant crawling sensation, pins and needles.
Activities that would put somebody at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome would be repetitive, small activities with the hands. So things like typing, working on an assembly line or factory equipment that vibrates, such as power tools. So doing those kinds of activities for long periods of time without much rest can cause that irritation of that nerve at the carpal tunnel. If that isn’t addressed, that injury can become permanent.
Usually we start with the most conservative option, which would be bracing with a wrist splint that keeps the wrist in a straight position. Usually we recommend doing that for two to three months wearing that wrist splint at night.
If that’s not working, then there are other options such as injections at the carpal tunnel with corticosteroids that can reduce inflammation and irritation. And then usually the last step for cases that aren’t responding to typical treatment would be seeing a hand specialist where they would do a carpal tunnel release. That’s kind of the last step for patients who don’t respond to those more conservative treatments.
There are some things you can do to try to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. If you’re doing small, repetitive activities of the hands, such as knitting or typing, taking short breaks, and the same advice if you’re using power tools that vibrate – take small, frequent breaks to give the wrist a change to recuperate.
To learn more, speak with a neurologist near you.