The pain in your wrists and hands has now advanced into numbness in your hands and fingers, making picking up and holding items difficult. This is common in advanced carpal tunnel syndrome and you should seek help before the condition causes permanent damage. A hand specialist will evaluate the extent of the damage and offer treatment to prevent it from getting worse. Here is what you need to know about this painful condition and what help is available.
An Irritated Nerve is the Cause of the Pain
The median nerve runs down your forearm, through your wrist and into your hand. To get through the complex series of bones in your wrist, this nerve travels through a narrow channel produced by the tendons and bones. This channel also protects the nerve as it passes through your wrist.
There are three common ways that the median nerve becomes irritated:
- degenerative bone disease, causing the channel to narrow
- repetitive motions, such as those done on a factory assembly line
- pressing the wrists against a solid object for long durations, such as when resting the wrists against a table when typing
These actions put pressure on the nerve, causing it and the tissue surrounding it to become inflamed. The nerve becomes painful where it is irritated and will eventually cause numbness further down into your hands and fingers. As the condition persists, you'll lose the feeling in your hands and won't have the strength to hold onto anything.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
The hand specialist will first offer some non-invasive approaches to reduce the pain and ease the pressure on the nerve while the inflammation goes away. These may include:
- anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling in the nerve and tissue covering
- exercises to strengthen the muscles in your wrists to better support the nerve
- splints to hold your wrists in a neutral position and reduce pressure on the nerve
When these approaches fail to give you relief, your doctor may recommend surgery to free up the nerve from irritation. Depending on the cause of the irritation, the surgery may include:
- enlarging the channel in which the nerve travels through the wrists
- reconstructing the tunnel when deformed by a degenerative bone disease
Preventing Future Occurrences
Your doctor will also recommend changes to your work habits and environment to prevent this painful condition from happening again.
- Take frequent breaks from repetitive motions to stretch your wrists, which increases circulation and decreases inflammation.
- Position keyboards so your wrists aren't pressing against a hard desk surface.
- Warm your hands and wrists before typing or doing detail work with your hands.
- Use over-the-counter wrist wraps to help protect your wrists from being irritated by work.
For more information about treatment options, contact a company like Hand Rehabilitation Specialists.