Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain Management in Knoxville, TNMany people have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome but the details of the condition are not as widely known. In this article, we will look into the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this common disease from the best Knoxville Carpal Tunnel doctors. But first, let’s gain a better understanding of its name and anatomy. The word “carpal” originates from the Latin word “carpus”, meaning “wrist”. A carpal tunnel is a narrow opening inside your wrist, about an inch wide. It is surrounded by small wrist bones on one side and a strong connective tissue (called transverse carpal ligament) on the other, keeping it enclosed.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of neuropathy (nerve damage) affecting the median nerve that controls the fingers in your hand, except the little finger. The nerve starts in the neck and follows down the arm, passing through the carpal tunnel on its way to the hand. The nine tendons responsible for bending the fingers surround the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel. Sometimes, the carpal tunnel becomes narrowed, or the tendons traveling through it become inflamed. In both cases, it puts pressure on the median nerve and can lead to damage and degeneration.
Common causesThere is no one specific cause for carpal tunnel syndrome but there are factors and conditions that might affect its progression.
- Genetics seem to play a big role in whether an individual will develop the syndrome. Some people’s carpal tunnels are smaller than average or have specific anatomic characteristics that affect their shape.
- Repetitive hand motions over a long time, especially the ones flexing and extending the wrist, can produce swelling that compresses the median nerve. The risk is particularly high for those working with vibrating tools in cold weather.
- Nerve-damaging or inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis (especially wrist arthritis), and thyroid gland imbalance, are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Because the carpal tunnel is so narrow, any level of swelling can result in a pinched nerve.
- Fluid retention during pregnancy can lead to increased pressure in the carpal tunnel that usually resolves itself after giving birth.
How common is carpal tunnel syndrome?Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common type of neuropathy, affecting between 3% and 6% of adults in America. It is three times more prevalent in women, possibly due to their carpal tunnels being narrower than men’s. It usually affects people over 50 years old and is more likely to occur with age.
Main symptomsCarpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by numbness and tingling sensation, known as paresthesia, in the hand and most of the fingers. As the little finger is controlled by a different nerve, it is not affected by this condition. While hand pain can also be a symptom, it is not usually the primary complaint. Pain can accompany paresthesia and radiate to the arm and the shoulder. We usually sleep with our wrists bent, which is why the pain and discomfort from carpal tunnel syndrome are felt more strongly at night and can interfere with sleep. During the day, the symptoms occur after the activities involving prolonged flexing of the wrist, such as driving or reading a book. Another symptom is hand weakness, either due to loss of sensitivity or weakening of the thumb muscles. Simple actions like buttoning clothes or holding objects can become challenging. In the early stages of the disease, the symptoms start as mild and intermittent, but if left untreated, they become more severe and persistent. This is why it’s important to contact your doctor at the earliest signs of the condition to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment.
Tests for carpal tunnel syndromeCarpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed from a combination of symptom history provided by the patient and tests performed by a doctor during the physical exam. For example, pressing down on the nerve or bending the wrist might bring on the tingling and numbness. A sensitivity test involves lightly touching the fingers with a tool while the patient’s eyes are closed. The doctor will also examine the muscles at the base of the thumb for weakness or atrophy. Ultrasound can help determine whether the median nerve is being compressed. Sometimes electrophysiological tests are performed to check the levels of electroactivity in the nerve and surrounding muscles for abnormalities.
How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?There are several treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome depending on the severity of the symptoms:
- As the symptoms are often stronger at night, wearing a brace to keep the wrist straight while you sleep can help ease the discomfort.
- Over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen provide pain relief in the short term but do not prevent the condition from progressing.
- Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel reduce inflammation and relieve the pressure on the nerve. In milder cases, the injections can provide long-term relief, whereas if the symptoms are moderate, the effect might be temporary.
- Carpal tunnel surgery is recommended if the symptoms are constant or include significant muscle atrophy, and the non-surgical treatment options are unsuccessful. During the procedure, the transverse carpal ligament that covers the carpal tunnel is cut to allow more room for the median nerve and the tendons. For most people, it cures the condition, although it might take a few months for the symptoms to fully disappear and for the function in the wrist and hand to return. In very severe cases, the strength and sensation might not be completely regained but surgery is still important to stop the progression of the disease and prevent irreversible damage.
ConclusionCarpal tunnel syndrome is a common neuropathy caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. The condition can result from anatomical changes in the carpal tunnel or the inflammation of the surrounding areas. The main symptoms are tingling, numbness and pain in the hand, and thumb muscle weakness. A few non-surgical treatments can improve the condition in its early stages. In more severe cases, carpal tunnel surgery is an effective treatment option that cures the disease for most people. Early detection leads to more positive outcomes, so if you think you might have carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t hesitate to discuss this with your doctor.
Carpal Tunnel Treatment in Knoxville, TNWith carpal tunnel syndrome comes pain. Omega Pain Management, the pain doctors in Knoxville, TN, under specialist Igor Smelyansky, MD, create personalized pain management plans to help people get rid of pain. Life is full of twists and turns and if you are someone that enjoys typing on your computer or doing anything with your hands in a repetitive process, eventually you’re going to wind up dealing with some degree of CTS. Don’t ignore the pain – take action! As we age it’s inevitable our creaks and cracks become more of a focus. Don’t let your pain control you. Call 856-337-5137 today and get pain-free! Get your best carpal tunnel treatment plan in Knoxville.
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