Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when there is swelling around the median nerve where it runs through a passage in your wrist called the carpal tunnel.
The median nerve allows you to feel sensation in your fingers — except the pinky finger — and helps control the muscles around the base of your thumb. The tendons that allow your fingers to move are also in the carpal tunnel.
When the carpal tunnel becomes so narrow that there’s pressure on the median nerve, you begin to feel the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which may include tingling, numbness, pain, and weakness in your hand and wrist.
Repetitive motions lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, but some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes can also contribute to it. Pregnancy and obesity have also both been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, but you’re putting off getting it treated, you may want to consider these reasons why earlier treatment is better.
Your symptoms will most likely get worse
The earlier you get treatment, the better your outcome will likely be. If you ignore your symptoms, you may find they become increasingly problematic. You may wake up during the night with an ache in your palm, or with your hand numb or tingling.
These kinds of symptoms may come and go at first, but will likely occur more often without treatment. Eventually, they will begin to interfere with your normal day-to-day activities. You may find it difficult to fasten buttons, for example.
Your hand may become weak
You may be able to deal with some pain and numbness, but eventually, you’ll probably begin to lose strength in your affected hand. You may find that tasks requiring fine motor skills are increasingly difficult. Writing, picking up small objects, holding utensils, and myriad other things most people do without thinking may become difficult or impossible.
You may lose hand control
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause you to feel as if you cannot control your hand. You may drop objects, or lose the sense of where your hand is in space. The longer you have untreated carpal tunnel syndrome, the more frequently symptoms will occur, and the longer they’ll last when they do happen.
Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome
The goal of treatment is to relieve the inflammation and pressure around the median nerve. Common treatments include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): over-the-counter pain medications can relieve inflammation and pain
- Wearing a wrist splint at night: this keeps your wrist from bending while you sleep and eases pressure on the median nerve
- Changing the activities you do: modifying the way you do certain tasks can help slow the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Exercises: exercises can help the median nerve glide through the carpal tunnel more smoothly
- Injections: corticosteroids may provide relief by reducing inflammation
- Surgery: in advanced cases the most appropriate treatment may be surgery, which can prevent irreversible damage
If you’re suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, don’t delay. Call our office in Castro Valley, California, or use the booking tool here on the website to make an appointment with Dr. Abeles.