It might start as a mild tingling sensation or annoying numbness in your hand. Down the road, however, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) could produce pain or weakness across your thumb and first three fingers. Left untreated, CTS can result in permanent damage to your wrist and hand.
CTS is commonly related to jobs in certain industries and occupations, affecting about 5 million people in the United States annually. While your job may not be the only reason why you develop CTS, it can be a contributing factor, even if the reason for your injury is never fully discovered.
As carpal tunnel syndrome specialists, the team at Southern Westchester Orthopedics & Sports Medicine can help you get past your CTS symptoms with restored hand movement and pain-free function. The best prognosis starts with early diagnosis and treatment, so don’t live with the problem any longer — make an appointment to see us.
The anatomy of the carpal tunnel
The carpal tunnel is a space in your wrist formed by a roof of four carpal bones protecting a gap about an inch wide beneath them (with your hand in palm-down orientation). The transverse carpal ligament forms the floor of the carpal tunnel.
Inside the tunnel, there’s a mix of nerve and tendon tissue. The flexor tendons assist the bending and other movement of your thumb and first three fingers, and the median nerve provides sensation and motion signals to and from your hand. The pinkie finger isn’t serviced by tissue inside the carpal tunnel.
As CTS develops on the job
Workplace CTS often starts with the collapse of the carpal tunnel due to repeatedly using hand postures that irritate and inflame ligament tissue and put pressure on the median nerve. Compressed nerve tissue produces a range of symptoms; in the case of CTS, symptoms usually build in intensity over time.
The first sign of CTS that most people experience is numbness and tingling in your fingers and hand. If you experience pain in the early stages, it’s often in the form of sudden, intermittent electric jolts. You might have a natural urge to shake your hands at the wrist to loosen up your wrist and relieve the symptoms.
As CTS progresses, symptoms may shoot up from your wrist toward your elbow. Intermittent symptoms may become more frequent or even constant. You might start dropping things as numbness takes hold. The median nerve also controls grip, so you may be losing strength in the pinching motion of the thumb.
When CTS is new, your hand responds well to treatment. This might include wrist braces, task and ergonomic modifications at work, physical therapy, and medications ranging from over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or prescribed treatments like corticosteroid injections.
Advanced cases of CTS often respond well to a surgical procedure called carpal tunnel release, which frees up space for the median nerve by removing a portion of the transverse ligament.
CTS may well be related to your job duties. Plan a visit to Southern Westchester Orthopedics & Sports Medicine for an assessment and diagnosis of your hand problem. You can request an appointment by phone or online with any of our three offices — in Yonkers, the Bronx, or Mamaroneck, New York. There’s an answer for CTS symptoms, so contact us today.