If you have been complaining about tingling, weakness, and numbness in your hand, this may be because you have carpal tunnel syndrome. The pressure on your wrist’s median nerve may have been too great that you are suffering from the problems mentioned. The middle nerve, along with a number of tendons, begins from your forearm right to your hand through a minute space in your wrist. This space is known as the carpal tunnel.
Your median nerve is responsible for controlling your feeling and movement in all your fingers, excluding the little finger. When there is too much pressure on this part, carpal tunnel syndrome often becomes the result. The pressure can give you swelling or can even cause the pressure itself. Swelling can be due to a lot of things, including:
- Health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism
- Repeated hand movements, particularly actions in which the wrists are higher than your hands
Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain in your arm between your elbow and your hand. The symptoms often take place in your first four fingers. You will know you have this syndrome if your other fingers hurt, but your little finger seems to be okay. This is because the median nerve does not control the little finger’s feeling. Oftentimes, the symptoms begin at night and you can get rid of the pain when you shake your hand.
As much as possible, carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated as soon as the symptoms begin to appear. If you have mild symptoms, you can simply stop what you are doing or take more frequent breaks. This way, you can rest your hands and avoid tasks that may worsen what you are feeling. Another way to treat the syndrome is to apply cold packs, especially if you notice a bit of swelling.
After a few weeks, you should be able to see the difference. If, however, your condition does not improve, you can get relief through conservative methods for treatment. Pain and the syndrome itself could disappear in 10 months or less. These treatment options can include the following:
- Wrist Splinting: If you often feel numbness and tingling at night, splinting can help where a split will hold your wrist in place while you go to sleep. Nocturnal splinting is often the choice of therapy for pregnant women.
- Corticosteroids: This may be injected to your carpal tunnel to get rid of the pain. As you know, corticosteroids reduce swelling and inflammation. In return, your median nerve would be free from the pressure it is currently suffering from. Although you can take oral corticosteroids, they are not as effective as the injection method.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs include ibuprofen, which can help relieve pain. While they are effective, the relief only lasts for a few hours and there is still no evidence that supports the use of NSAIDs to eliminate carpal tunnel syndrome.
For those who have severe symptoms that do not seem to go away, the main option is to undergo surgery where there is a choice between two techniques namely:
- Endoscopic Surgery: The surgeon will use an endoscope, which is a device that has a tiny camera at the end to see what happened to your carpal tunnel. He/she will then cut the ligament by slitting open a part of your wrist or hand.
- Open Surgery: The other technique is called open surgery because instead of a small incision, a larger one will be done in the palm of the hand, just right above the carpal tunnel. The surgeon will then cut through the ligament, so that the median nerve will be free from pressure.
While there is a difference in the size of the cuts, the ligament tissues will definitely grow back. If you want less pain, endoscopic surgery is a better option, although your doctor will still decide which operation is more suitable for you.
In general, those who have carpal tunnel syndrome respond well even to the conservative treatment methods. Meanwhile, for others who may need surgical operation, residual weakness for their carpal tunnel may occur.