GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- If you have pain or numbness in the wrist and do a web search of your symptoms, one of the first conditions that may pop up is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
It is a progressive condition that can worsen without proper care.
As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, 7 News’ Taylor Murray, spoke with a hand surgeon about who is at risk and how to prevent the syndrome.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that runs from the base of the hand through the wrist.
”There’s an important nerve that runs from your neck all the way down through your arm and it crosses your wrist and it runs through a little tunnel. That nerve goes with all the little tendons in your fingers.”Dr. Megan friend, Orthopedic Hand Surgeon, Bon Secours. St. Francis
Dr. Megan Friend, an Orthopedic Hand Surgeon, says when any of those tendons become irritated, swelling can occur compressing the median nerve. This is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
“Which then results in numbness, tingling, pins and needle type of sensations in the fingers. Sometimes when it gets really bad you can lose muscle function in the hand as well,” Friend said.
Carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t just affect office workers or people who use the computer frequently, but anyone who engages in repetitive activities with their hands is at risk.
“If you work assembly line kind of stuff, where you are always gripping and using your hands and making fists repetitively that could do it. People who work construction, who are using vibratory tools like jackhammers, things like that,” Friend said.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be more than just a pain in the wrist.
“It can cause a burning sensation. It can wake you up at nighttime.”Dr. Megan friend, Orthopedic Hand Surgeon, Bon Secours. St. Francis
Sometimes surgery is necessary.
“Basically, we make a cut in the palm of the hand and release a piece of tissue that gets thickened and inflamed over time and it pushes on the median nerve. I release it giving the room a little more space to breathe,” Friend said.
But, in most cases, surgery can be prevented if you are treated for your symptoms soon enough.
“Sometimes, I will consider giving them a cortisone injection into the wrist itself and that relieves some of the inflammation around the nerve,” Friend said.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, make an appointment with your Primary Care Physician first to get on a treatment plan.
After being evaluated by a doctor, there are some things you can do at home to find temporary relief.
Dr. Friend recommends wearing a brace at nighttime, working from an ergonomic desk, and taking frequent breaks from any repetitive activity or sustained position of your hand or wrist.
According to the National Institutes of Health, women and people with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome