A Deep Dive into Carpal Tunnel

female hands showing carpal tunnel syndrome

Find an Orthopedic Hand Specialist in Wichita, KS for Treatment

According to recent statistics, carpal tunnel syndrome affects approximately one to five percent of adults in America. The majority of those affected fall into the 40 to 60 age demographic. Although carpal tunnel isn’t as common as other orthopedic issues such as low back pain or knee pain, it can drastically affect quality of life. This is especially true for those who depend on their hands as part of their jobs.

Carpal tunnel drastically increases the difficulty of using writing utensils, operating a computer, and any motion that requires manually turning physical objects. The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or other areas of the hand and wrist
  • A sense of weakness in the fingers
  • A reduced sense of coordination when handling objects

For those who believe they may have carpal tunnel syndrome, the best thing to do is address it as early as possible. After providing some key information about the causes of carpal tunnel and who is most at risk, we’ll break down when the right time is to contact an orthopedic hand specialist in Wichita, KS.

The Cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve runs through the forearm and wrist and is responsible for providing sensation in the thumb and fingers (pinkie finger excluded). When the median nerve is compressed or irritated, it can lead to symptoms traditionally associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. However, carpal tunnel is generally not caused by one thing specifically, but rather a combination of factors.

The following are some of the most common factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing carpal tunnel:

Gender: Females are statistically more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than males.

Having conditions that affect nerves: Chronic conditions that cause nerve damage (like diabetes) increase the likelihood of developing carpal tunnel.

Having conditions that cause inflammation: Conditions that cause inflammation in muscles, tendons, and ligaments (like rheumatoid arthritis) can compress the median nerve.

Obesity: Obese individuals are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.

Taking medications: Certain medications have been linked with increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome (such as letrozole, exemestane, anastrozole, bisphosphonates used to treat osteoporosis, and select antiretrovirals).

strong>History of fluid retention: Fluid retention is common during pregnancy and has been known to cause temporary carpal tunnel that naturally relieves post-pregnancy.

Injury: A dislocation or fracture can disrupt the area around the median nerve, causing compression.

Usage and external factors: Repetitive motions that involve the wrist and computer usage – especially the hand operating the mouse – put pressure on the median nerve can cause carpal tunnel syndrome; working with tools that vibrate has also been known to cause it.

Congenital predisposition: Carpal tunnel runs in families.

Mitigating Your Risk of Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If your carpal tunnel is in the early stages, there are ways to relieve it without the intervention of an orthopedic hand specialist. Refer to the following best practices:

  • Take frequent breaks to give your wrists a rest.
  • Make sure that you’re not gripping objects, like your computer mouse, too tightly.
  • Periodically relax your hands and shake them.
  • Keep your hand and wrist warm.
  • Always sit with correct posture.
  • Change your mouse if your current one strains your wrist
  • .

When to Get in Touch with an Orthopedic Hand Specialist

If holistic methods have failed to relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t hesitate to reach out to an orthopedic hand specialist at Mid-America Orthopedics in Wichita. During your first appointment, your orthopedic doctor will collect a detailed medical history and thoroughly examine the area. They may even order an electromyography test to get a more detailed look at the state of your median nerve. Once they’ve gotten to the root cause of the issue, they will put you on a treatment and recovery plan specifically designed for you.

In the event that you have an advanced case of carpal tunnel syndrome, we may refer you to one of our experienced in-house orthopedic hand surgeons. It’s possible you may need carpal tunnel release surgery to make more room for the median nerve so that you can find permanent relief.

For an examination with an orthopedic hand specialist, please contact our practice to make an appointment. Mid-America Orthopedics can also be reached by phone at (316) 630-9300. For the convenience of our patients, we are typically able to offer same-day or next-day appointments.