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How Do I Know if I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

No matter how much you love your job, there are probably some tasks you have to do that are just flat out boring. They most likely involve sitting at a computer screen as you type, click, and scroll for hours on end. Although mind-numbing and tedious, most of this busywork is pretty safe; after all, what can be dangerous about an office? One danger does loom, however – carpal tunnel syndrome. 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that carpal tunnel impacts more than eight million people each year. This condition, which women are three times more likely to develop than men, thrives in offices where workers continually use their hands, fingers, and wrists on computers.

Are you suffering from symptoms that may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome? Come see the team at The Hand Center. Our highly skilled and educated team of board-certified doctors, surgeons, and physician assistants provide top-of-the-line care for conditions and ailments impacting the hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Our practice is proud to offer comprehensive orthopedic services for patients of all ages.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow rigid passageway, made of bones and ligaments, at the base of the hand. It helps protect the median nerve, which runs the length of your arm and houses the tendons that move your fingers. The median nerve provides feeling to the thumb, index, middle, and part of the ring finger (but not the pinky) and also controls some muscles at the base of the thumb.

You develop carpal tunnel syndrome when irritated tendons, often caused by repeated motions, compress the median nerve. As the tunnel gets smaller and puts pressure on the nerve, it can’t fully function.

Symptoms

One of the most obvious indicators of carpal tunnel syndrome is when you experience issues with the thumb and first three fingers. Many patients report sensations of numbness, tingling, burning, or pain. You might experience fingers that feel useless and swollen despite no visible swelling. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome can also significantly reduce your grip strength, making you drop things more easily. It also causes weakness in the muscles of the thumb that help you pinch.

Risk Factors

Carpal tunnel syndrome is often caused by a combination of risk factors. Some of these factors are direct while others may increase the risk of irritation or damage to the median nerve. As stated above, women are more at risk than men because they often have smaller wrists and therefore smaller carpal tunnels. Other risk factors include:

Although common in office jobs, assembly line workers are more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treating carpal tunnel

At The Hand Center, we’re usually able to diagnose your carpal tunnel syndrome from a physical exam. In some cases, additional tests might be necessary. The first line of defense and treatment comes from non-operative treatments like splints/orthoses, exercise, and steroid injections. Rest and avoiding the activities that led to the inflammation are also important. 

If non-operative treatments fail, surgery may be necessary. We perform both open release and endoscopic surgery to give patients options. Both are safe and effective.

Don’t suffer through carpal tunnel syndrome alone. The Hand Center can help you find relief. Contact or request an appointment at one of our four Connecticut offices today.

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