Do you wake up in the middle of the night because of a tingling or prickly sensation in your hand? You might be experiencing the early warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Though your hands may not bother you during the day, carpal tunnel syndrome worsens over time when left untreated.
At Orthopedic & Wellness in Frederick, Waldorf, and Germantown, Maryland, our experienced physicians, Dr. Ojedapo Ojeyemi and Dr. Matthew Roh, specialize in diagnosing and treating carpal tunnel syndrome. This includes treatment during the early stages.
So, what are the warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome and what should you do? Let us explain.
The carpal tunnel is a pathway in your wrist. Rigid bones make up the sides and bottom of the tunnel, and the transverse carpal ligament covers the top.
The carpal tunnel is about an inch wide, allowing just enough room for the passage of the flexor tendons that help you bend your fingers and the median nerve, which is one of the main motor and sensory nerves in the hand.
You develop carpal tunnel syndrome when your median nerve is compressed or pinched as it passes through the carpal tunnel.
Many people think you get CTS if you spend all day typing on a computer. But carpal tunnel syndrome usually has more than one cause.
Anyone can develop carpal tunnel syndrome. However, this pain condition is significantly more common in women than men — three times more common. Having diabetes or an autoimmune disorder can put you at risk. You also may inherit a narrow carpal tunnel.
Any repetitive hand or wrist activity ― drawing, assembly line work, repetitive hammering ― might cause swelling and inflammation in the wrist, leading to the nerve compression that causes CTS.
Nighttime numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the hand are the early warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. You may be able to shake these symptoms with a few flicks of the wrist.
You may not think much about these nighttime symptoms, but CTS gets worse over time. As it advances, your symptoms may start affecting your daytime routine, such as when you’re driving, typing, or holding a book. Continued compression of the median nerve also weakens your grip, and you may find it harder to hold a cup of coffee or turn a key to unlock a door.
When carpal tunnel syndrome is left untreated, you can have permanent nerve damage.
If you have CTS symptoms, even if they only happen at night, schedule an evaluation with our team. We can provide treatments that may prevent your symptoms from getting worse or causing permanent nerve damage.
During the early stages, we recommend wearing wrist splints while you sleep to prevent bending of the wrist. We may also suggest modifying your daytime activities to reduce the repetitive use of your hand or wrist. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce inflammation and ease pain.
If you have daytime symptoms, we may suggest a corticosteroid injection as part of a pain management plan to reduce inflammation and swelling.
For severe daytime and nighttime CTS symptoms, we may recommend carpal tunnel release surgery, which involves severing the transverse carpal ligament, increasing the space in the carpal tunnel for the median nerve.
Don’t ignore the warning signs of carpal tunnel. Let us help you get relief from your symptoms. Contact Orthopedic & Wellness at the location convenient to you to schedule an appointment with us today.