Carpal Tunnel Symptoms and FAQs
What Exactly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that affects the hand and wrist. Carpal tunnel symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand, wrist, or fingers.
The carpal tunnel is an area or tunnel within the wrist. This tunnel is surrounded by wrist bones as well as by a rigid ligament linking the bones together.
The flexing tendons of the fingers, thumb and the median nerve are also within the carpal tunnel.
The median nerve is what carries signals from the brain to the hand to control movement and relay information about temperature, touch and, unfortunately, hand pain. It also controls sweating of the hand.
The median nerve also controls the thumb, index, and middle and ring finger.
Swelling of the tendons from overuse or repeated motion reduces space within the carpal tunnel and squeezes the median nerve. This causes feelings of numbness, terrible pain, tingling and weakness in the affected hand, fingers or wrist.
In some cases, carpal tunnel can affect the upper arm.
Why Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Happen in the First Place?
Every time the wrist bends or the fingers move, muscles and tendons are used. Tendons within the hand are surrounded by sheaths, or protective coverings, that produce a slippery fluid which helps to lubricate the tendons. The lubrication is necessary in order for the tendons to have smooth and normal functioning.
Repetitive or excessive motion can reduce the production or quality of the fluid produced by the tendon sheaths. Improperly lubricated tendons cause friction and swelling of the tendon area resulting in swelling of the median nerve. The swelling can cause fibrous tissue to form, thickening the tendon sheath, reducing tendon movement and causing often excruciating hand pain.
Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome be Cured?
Carpal tunnel syndrome cannot be cured. However, there are temporary ways to alleviate your hand or wrist pain, including resting the affected hand, taking anti-inflammatory medications, getting steroid injections, using NSAIDs, applying cold packs, or a using a hand brace or splint to restrict movement of the hand and wrist.
Sometimes physicians may suggest surgery, a painful and expensive operation to cut the ligament that is pressing on the median nerve.
There is also CarpalAID, an easy, economical way to help alleviate or lessen hand pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome without invasive surgery.
Is Arthritis Caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Arthritis can mimic carpal tunnel symptoms. However, while arthritis is also painful and possibly caused by a medical problem such as rheumatoid arthritis, in general, it is not caused by or the same thing as carpal tunnel syndrome. Getting a proper diagnosis by your doctor is important to determine whether you have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome the Same Thing as Wrist Tendonitis?
Although possibly exhibiting similar symptoms, carpal tunnel syndrome is not tendonitis.
Is Carpal Tunnel Related to Gout?
There is some thought that for some carpal tunnel sufferers, gout may be a contributing factor. Only your medical professional can tell you for certain. It is recommended to get a physician’s help to correctly diagnose.
Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Preventable?
Sometimes losing weight may help lessen carpal tunnel symptoms. Also, getting proper medical treatment for any underlying conditions, such as diabetes, that may be causing your carpal tunnel syndrome pain is important.
Good posture and proper ergonomics while working can also help prevent hand pain and wrist discomfort. If you work with your hands on a repetitive basis, try not to twist, bend or extend your hands for long periods of time.
Keep your arms and hands at a comfortable distance from your body. Try not to rest your hands or wrists on hard surfaces for too long, and switch hands if possible, taking regular breaks.
Use a wrist gel rest if you use the computer all day, and try to make sure your work chair keeps your forearms level with the keyboard so you are not flexing your wrists.
What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Are There Tests for Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel symptoms range from tingling to extreme pain. When you see your doctor or other medical professionals, you will be asked about your symptoms and what exacerbates the pain for you.
When the doctor taps on the inside of your wrist, you may feel a tingling or electric shock sort of pain. Your doctor may ask you to bend your wrist down for a minute or so to see if this causes any further signs of discomfort or pain.
A physician may also do a nerve conduction test or electromyography and nerve conduction velocity tests on the hand to determine whether the muscles and nerves are presenting the typical effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. Even then, it is not an exact diagnosis.
Why am I Suddenly Having Hand Pain?
There may be an underlying medical cause for your sudden onset of carpal tunnel pain.
It could be the result of years of overuse of the wrists and hands (grocery checkers, computer users, carpenters or the like), or it could be caused as a result of an illness such as gout, diabetes, thyroid problems or rheumatoid arthritis. Only a medical professional can tell with any certainty.
I Am Pregnant and My Doctor Says I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I Don’t Want Surgery and I Want to Be Able to Hold My Baby. What Can I Do?
Sometimes a pregnancy may bring on carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. The good news is this usually disappears after the baby is born. But just to make sure, ask your doctor or another medical professional.
In the meantime, during your pregnancy, you can safely use CarpalAID to relieve your hand or wrist pain. The small plastic hand patch does not have medication or drugs of any kind. It can be worn overnight, and you’ll wake up pain-free!
Is Surgery Effective? How Long is Recovery After Hand Surgery?
Oftentimes, doctors will recommend surgery to relieve carpal tunnel symptoms. However, surgery is expensive and is priced per hand.
It may take a number of weeks or even months to regain normal use of your hand and wrist after the surgery.
Your livelihood may be affected if you use your hands for work as the recovery time after surgery is lengthy.
Does Acupuncture Help with Carpal Tunnel Pain?
Acupuncture may help reduce pain and increase the mobility of your hand or wrist.
Acupuncture may also help speed up the recovery process after hand surgery and may help you to regain full use of the affected hand more quickly.
Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Genetic?
In some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome has been shown to be hereditary, but that is not always the case.
Do Splints or Hand Braces Help?
Some people get relief when they use a wrist splint or hand brace. However, hand braces can be uncomfortable, not particularly attractive and are not a permanent solution.
Take it off and the pain from the years of repetitive motion returns.
Do Anti-inflammatory Over-the-Counter Drugs Help?
In some cases, NSAIDs can temporarily help alleviate pain from carpal syndrome but, like hand braces, it is not permanent. It can help reduce swelling but does not treat the condition itself.
Even steroid shots in the affected area are not a permanent solution – the pain usually returns after 4 to 6 weeks.
Are There Exercises to Make My Carpal Tunnel Symptoms Go Away?
Massage, including deep tissue massage of the wrist and hand area, may help with your hand pain, but they cannot cure carpal tunnel syndrome. It temporarily treats the pain.
Hand, wrist and finger exercises may help. Ask your medical professional.
Will Both Hands Be Affected?
Not necessarily but it is possible, especially if you use both hands equally and in the same manner. If there is an underlying medical condition, you are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome in the other hand.
Sometimes I Get Horrible Hand Pain at Night. Is That Normal?
It is not typical but many people do report hand pain worsening while sleeping. This may be the result of restricted blood circulation to the hand because of injured tissue, pressure on the affected hand/wrist, or lymphatic fluid slowing down due to less muscle movement at night.