Carpal tunnel is a narrowing of the passage on the palm side of the hand. This narrow passage is surrounded by ligaments and bones, so when the nerve inside is compressed, it can cause tingling, weakness and numbness in the hands and arm.
Many people recognize that they’re losing feeling or have tingling long before their carpal tunnel becomes a permanent issue. Tendinitis may occur first, which is an inflammation of the tendons in that area of the wrist, arm and hand. In early stages, rest, ice and recovery time is all that may be necessary to heal the inflammation. Unfortunately, when carpal tunnel develops, it can become chronic and lead to real dysfunction in the arm and hand.
How is carpal tunnel diagnosed?
Carpal tunnel is diagnosed with a physical exam as well as by taking a history of your symptoms. Additionally, your medical provider may order tests, such as and X-ray, nerve conduction study or electromyography.
Earlier stages of this condition can normally be treated nonsurgically. Using anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids and wrist splinting can help.
Once the condition worsens, surgery may be the other option. With surgery, the goal is to take the pressure off your nerve. There are two kinds of surgery, open and endoscopic. In either one, the goal is to cut through the ligament that is pressing on the nerve. After this is done, the area is allowed to heal. The ligament is intended to grow back longer and with more room for your nerve so that the symptoms don’t return.
If you’ve been making repetitive movements at work, then carpal tunnel could be what is causing your pain. It’s a good idea to talk to your employer about getting a medical exam and taking the time you need to heal.