Initially, you may only have symptoms first thing in the morning. Your hand may feel numb and tingly, but with a few shakes of your wrist, the normal feeling in your hand returns. Over time, however, the symptoms of your carpal tunnel syndrome will worsen, especially when you ignore the early signs.
At Orthopedic & Wellness, our experienced orthopedic and pain management physicians — Dr. Ojedapo Ojeyemi and Dr. Matthew Roh — provide comprehensive care for our patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, including surgery when needed. Here, we share with you three warning signs that your carpal tunnel is worsening and what you can do about it.
1. Numbness and tingling last longer
It’s one thing to have numbness and tingling in the morning, but when you can’t shake off your symptoms, things are getting worse.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the median nerve, which delivers sensory information ― heat, pain, touch — from your hand to your brain. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome occur when there’s compression of the nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist.
The carpal tunnel is a small, rigid passageway. The longer the nerve remains compressed, the more likely you are to damage the nerve, leading to prolonged symptoms like numbness and tingling.
2. Weakening grip
When you need to use two hands to turn a door handle because your grip feels too weak, your carpal tunnel is worsening. Your median nerve controls the muscles at the base of your thumb, as well as the muscles in your forearm.
Prolonged compression of the nerve not only affects your sensations, but it also causes damage that affects motor function. You have a weaker grip because the median nerve is having a harder time controlling the muscles in your thumb, making it difficult to grasp objects.
It also affects fine motor skills, which is why you may find it more challenging to firmly hold a pen or pencil to write a note.
3. Muscle loss
The most severe symptom of carpal tunnel is muscle loss at the base of your thumb. This occurs because of lack of muscle movement.
When left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause irreversible nerve damage. Getting treatment for your carpal tunnel as soon as you notice symptoms may stop this permanent damage. It may even prevent or delay the need for surgical intervention.
However, many people have surgery for carpal tunnel. For the procedure, our orthopedic surgeon severs the ligament around the wrist, reducing pressure on the nerve. Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome following surgery is rare.
Don’t wait until your symptoms get worse. If you have tingling or numbness in your hand or fingers, schedule a consultation with our carpal tunnel experts today — we’re located in Frederick, Germantown, and Waldorf, Maryland. Call the office near you, or book an appointment online.