Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common problem characterized by pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hand and wrist. It occurs when you experience increased pressure on the median nerve within the wrist. The median nerve provides sensation in half of the ring finger, thumb, middle, and index fingers but does not affect the pinky (small finger). Other conditions like arthritis and de Quervain’s tendinosis present similar symptoms, necessitating a professional East Brunswick carpal tunnel diagnosis to ensure you understand and treat the underlying problem. Here is a simplified guideline to help you learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome.
A carpel tunnel is a narrow canal/tube in your wrist. The space facilitates the median nerve and tendon connection to your hand and forearm. The tunnel includes bones, making up the bottom and sides, and ligament at the top, holding the tunnel together. When the space narrows, the median nerve and tendons are pressed down, leading to swelling. This cuts off the sensation in your hand and fingers, causing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis
Your doctor will consider your medical history, discuss the symptoms, and perform tests to understand your situation. The tests your doctor may use for diagnosis include:
- Tinel’s sign: The test involves the doctor tapping the median nerve at the wrist and observing if it produces a tingling sensation in your fingers.
- Phalen test: Also known as the wrist flexion test, it is performed by resting your elbows on a table and freely allowing the wrist to fall forward. You have carpal tunnel syndrome if you experience pain, numbness, and tingling in the fingers within 60 seconds. If the condition is severe, the symptoms are felt quicker.
- X-rays: Your doctor may order a wrist X-ray, especially if there is limited wrist motion or symptoms pointing towards trauma or arthritis.
- Electromyography: This approach tests tiny electrical discharges that the muscles produce. It involves the doctor inserting a thin needle electrode into the muscle. They then observe electrical activity when your muscle contracts and rest. This establishes if there is damage to muscles controlled by the median nerve.
- Ultrasound: Wrist ultrasound provides the doctor with a better view of the bones and nerves. This helps them determine if the nerve is compressed.
You are at higher risk as you age, mostly seen in individuals over 20 years. The syndrome is common in people who repeatedly use their hands, wrists, and fingers. Extreme wrist motion, vibration, and high force, like hammering, increase the risk. Other risk factors include:
- Family history (hereditary)
- Hand/wrist deformity
- Trauma (fracture or dislocation)
- Conditions like diabetes and arthritis
- A tumor in the carpal tunnel, to mention a few
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment approach varies following the extent of the condition. Wearing a wrist splint at night, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and cortisone injections can help. If there is no response or the damage has extended, you may need surgery. Don’t let it slide if you realize your grip is not as strong or experience pain, shock-like sensations, numbness, or tingling; it could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome. Call or visit Mid Atlantic Orthopedic Associates, LLP today for diagnosis and treatment.