One of the most common nerve disorders experienced today is carpal tunnel syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health, carpal tunnel affects 4 to 10 million Americans and is typically very treatable. However, if not treated right away it can interfere with your hand strength, cause tingling and numbing sensations, as well as causing a decrease in hand functions. Dr. Sarbjot Dulai, your neurologist in Leesburg, VA not only explain what carpal tunnel syndrome is, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment; but what risk factors to be on the lookout for.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the median nerve, which runs from the forearm down through a passageway called the carpal tunnel into the palm of the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist. This compression can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the fingers, hand, and sometimes the arm itself.
The anatomy of a person’s wrist, other health problems, and repetitive hand motions can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. However, typically once diagnosed, treatment relieves the pain, tingling or numbness, and restores function to the hand and wrist.
Signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can include:
- Tingling or numbness, mostly felt in the fingers or hand.
- Electric shock sensation in the thumb and index, or middle and ring fingers.
- Weakness and clumsiness, causing a person to drop objects or have difficulties with finer movements, like buttoning up a shirt.
- Stiff fingers
- Inability to make a fist
- Itchy palms
- Fingers that are swollen, or just feel as though they are swollen (even if they do not appear to be swollen)
- Changes in hand temperature or skin color
- Inability to determine between hot and cold by touch.
These symptoms can also disrupt a person’s sleep, interfere with normal daily activities, and can cause permanent nerve and muscle damage if not treated.
Risk factors that can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Often times there is no single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. It may be a combination of risk factors that contributes to the development of the condition. Although they may not directly cause the syndrome, they can increase the risk of irritation or damage to the median nerve (see “Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic”)
Risk factors can include:
- Sex. The carpal tunnel area within the arm is relatively smaller in women than it is in men making women more susceptible to the syndrome symptoms.
- Anatomic. Dislocation, wrist fracture, or arthritis that deforms the small bones in the wrist can alter the space with the carpal tunnel itself and add pressure to the median nerve.
- Nerves. Chronic illnesses like diabetes increases the risk of nerve damage, which includes the median nerve.
- Work. Working with certain tools, like mechanics or construction workers, which require prolonged, frequent, and repetitive flexing of the wrist may create harmful pressure on the median nerve creating damage.
- Other medical factors. Other medical conditions, such as menopause, thyroid disorders, and kidney failure can increase the chances of carpal tunnel syndrome as well.
Anything that squeezes or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. It is important to be aware and to minimize stress on the hands and wrists.
Diagnosis and treatment
It is important to see your neurologist in Leesburg, VA as soon as you start experiencing symptoms that may be carpal tunnel syndrome. The sooner that carpal tunnel is diagnosed, the sooner a unique treatment plan can be enacted and improve your symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is typically diagnosed by giving your physician your medical history as well as having a thorough physical exam. Once diagnosed, treatment options can include:
- Wrist splinting
If you are experiencing symptoms and waiting to see your doctor, some measures that may give relief include taking frequent breaks to rest your hands; trying to avoid activities that make symptoms worse; and applying cold packs to help reduce swelling.
Make An Appointment With Dr. Dulai Today!
If you or a loved one are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and are experiencing any symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dulles neurology specialist Dr. Sarbjot Dulai today. With his expertise, he can diagnose, and create a personalized treatment for you. Contact Neurology Associates today at (703) 726-6393 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Dulai.