What is Carpal Tunnel & What Should I Do About It?

We're happy to share insights from our doctors.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that can affect just about anyone. This condition occurs due to compression on the median nerve in the hand. When this nerve is squeezed or compressed, it can cause a lot of pain. At the very least, a person suffering from carpal tunnel can expect to feel numbness or tingling in the affected hand and wrist.

The good news is that, with proper treatment and care, it is possible to relieve carpal tunnel. But before delving into treatment options, it will be helpful to review the causes and symptoms of carpal tunnel.

What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel?

When a person develops carpal tunnel, there are generally three primary symptoms:

  • Weakness — A common symptom of carpal tunnel is weakness in the hand or wrist, making it difficult to perform basic tasks;
  • Numbness — Another common symptom of carpal tunnel is numbness in the hand or wrist with a distinct feeling of pins and needles; and
  • Pain — In the most extreme causes, carpal tunnel can cause shooting pain, often described as an electrical shock in the affected area.

What are the Causes of Carpal Tunnel?

In many cases, repetitive motions are the primary cause of carpal tunnel. This is especially true in the digital age, where people use keyboards and mice regularly and repetitively throughout their work day, increasing the chance of compressing or squeezing the median nerve. Furthermore, the need to complete professional activities on a regular basis prevents necessary rest and treatment, which is essential for relieving carpal tunnel.

That being said, a person’s anatomy and other health conditions can also contribute to carpal tunnel. For example, the following medical conditions are often associated with carpal tunnel:

  • Arthritis — This joint disorder can cause inflammation of the wrist tendons and contribute to carpal tunnel;
  • Diabetes — High levels of blood glucose can make it difficult for the wrist tendons to move and play a part in carpal tunnel;
  • Hypothyroidism — Improper hormone production from the thyroid gland can be a factor in developing carpal tunnel;
  • Obesity — Medical studies indicate that overweight and obese individuals have a high risk of developing carpal tunnel; and
  • Pregnancy — The human body retains more fluid than usual during pregnancy, which can lead to carpal tunnel.

How Can I Treat or Prevent Carpal Tunnel?

While self-care and treatment can sometimes help alleviate minor carpal tunnel symptoms, severe pain and major symptoms are a different story. If carpal tunnel is preventing you from handling basic tasks, sleeping at night, or completing work activities, it is vital to seek medical attention from a skilled professional. Otherwise, carpal tunnel symptoms can get much worse over time.

In order to diagnose carpal tunnel, a licensed doctor will generally conduct several tests and evaluate your:

  • Fingers — Probing for numbness or weakness;
  • Hand — Assessing strength and range of motion; and
  • Wrist — Examining the median nerve for sensitivity.

After a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, the treatment options can vary based on the exact nature of the patient’s medical condition. In certain cases, a doctor may recommend wearing a splint and taking over-the-counter medication. In other cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to resolve the issue.

Do You Need Professional Treatment for Carpal Tunnel?

If you are suffering from carpal tunnel or a similar medical conditions, it can be distinctly helpful to seek professional assistance from a qualified hand surgeon. At Midwest Hand Surgery, we specialize in various hand and wrist procedures, including carpal tunnel. If you need professional treatment in this context, contact us today to jumpstart the recovery process.

read more like this

carpal tunnel pain relief
Carpal tunnel pain relief: What are the options?

Several treatment options are available depending on the duration and severity of your carpal tunnel symptoms. Read more about carpal tunnel pain relief options.

Read the blog
carpal tunnel pain relief
carpal tunnel vs tendonitis
Carpal Tunnel vs Tendonitis: Similarities and Differences

Carpal tunnel vs tendonitis: both can be the cause of similar symptoms, but these conditions are very different.

Read the blog
carpal tunnel vs tendonitis
Finding the Best Hand and Wrist Specialist: What to Look For

Some practical tips for finding the best hand and wrist specialist near you.

Read the blog