We use our hands every day without any thought ... to write, drive, work
and care for our families. Our hands can, however, become a source of
discomfort when tingling, numbness, or even pain, make these simple tasks
difficult. These can be signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, one of the most
common hand injuries.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the carpal tunnel
is a narrow passageway at the base of the hand that contains the median
nerve and tendons. The median nerve runs from the forearm into the palm
of the hand and controls feeling to the palm side of the thumb and fingers.
When pressure increases on the nerve, carpal tunnel syndrome develops.
“Performing simple tasks, such as holding something or driving a
vehicle, can become quite painful,” explains Dr. Bryan Dudoussat,
an Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in hand surgery at North Oaks Orthopaedic
Specialty Center. “Symptoms usually begin gradually and frequently
come and go. Over time, they may become more constant.”
Orthopaedic Surgeon J. Gregory Kinnett, MD, adds, “If diagnosed and
treated early, carpal tunnel syndrome can often be relieved without surgery,
so it is important to see a doctor when you notice symptoms.”
Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness, tingling or pain in the hand
- An electric shock-like feeling in the thumb, index and long fingers
- Weakness in the hand.
Your physician will perform an examination and may order tests or X-rays
to determine the best way to treat your symptoms.
Non-surgical treatments may include:
- Wearing a wrist brace or splint
- Using anti-inflammatorymedications
- Changing activities that aggravate symptoms.
Surgery to increase the size of the tunnel and relieve pressure on the
nerve may be recommended in severe cases or if the non-surgical treatments
are not successful in relieving pain. Surgery is usually done on an outpatient
basis. Most patients see improvement in their symptoms immediately following
surgery, agree Drs. Dudoussat and Kinnett.
Hand therapy with
North Oaks Rehabilitation Services Certified Hand Therapists Paul Legardeur and Mandy Hill is often recommended
to help patients completely recover. The therapists use splinting, manual
therapy and range of motion exercises to help patients after surgery.
Don’t let hand pain slow you down! If numbness or tingling in your
hands is keeping you from your daily activities, see your physician or call
North Oaks Orthopaedic Specialty Center for an appointment at (985) 230-2663
in Hammond or (225) 686-4900 in Livingston.