If you’re feeling tingling, numbness, pain or weakness in your hand, you may be suffering from a common, progressive condition called carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Burning or tingling sensation in the hands or wrist
- Difficulty picking up small objects
- “Night numbness,” of the fingers or hands, enough to disturb sleep
- Work in which there is repetitive motion of the fingers, hand or wrist
- Gender (2 – 3 times more common in women than men)
- Age (most patients symptomatic at 40 – 70 years old)
- Underlying conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid disease
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bone at the base of the hand through which the median nerve and tendons pass. The median nerve provides sensation to the palm side of the thumb and to the index, middle, and part of the ring fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when swelling and narrowing of the passageway compresses the median nerve at the wrist, resulting in numbness, tingling, and weakness of the fingers and hand.
The following tests could help your doctor diagnosis this condition:
- X-rays, ultrasound or MRI to look at your bone and tissue
- Nerve conduction test to measure the signal in the nerves of your hand and arm
- Tinel’s sign test to detect irritation of the median nerve
Depending on your symptoms or progression of the syndrome, the following provides effective relief:
- Keep wrists in neutral position, without any bend in the wrist.
- Keep your hands warm to provide extra circulation.
- Improve your posture by aligning your shoulders.
- Stretch frequently before work and during the day.
- Frequent shaking or rubbing of the hands and wrists provides rest and circulation.
- Perform wrist curls and open-hand / closed-fist exercises.
- Wearing a splint at night helps takes the pressure off the wrist during sleep.
- Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids to decrease swelling.
- Surgery can be performed by releasing the tendon.
- Hydrotherapy (hot and cold) can provide temporary relief.
- Massage techniques such as trigger point therapy, frictions, joint mobilization, and manual lymph drainage can also provide relief.
See your doctor if the pain persists or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
See your therapist if treatment is recommended.