Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

There are many conditions that can affect one’s hand.  Among the most common are tendonitis, trigger fingers, carpal tunnel syndrome and degenerative joint disease.  Each of these conditions has very different presentation of symptoms and each requires different treatment options.  Today we will discuss carpal tunnel syndrome.

Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome present with a variety of symptoms, some may have several of the symptoms while others only a few.  The various symptoms one may have can include: weakness or clumsiness of the hand, decreased sensation in the fingers, awakening from sleep with numbness of the fingers, pain in the wrist and forearm.  The most common age for carpal tunnel syndrome is 40 to 60 years of age and men and women are effected equally.

There are a number of medical conditions that have been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome: rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid imbalance, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis, diabetes mellitus, local trauma to the wrist, alcoholism, hemophilia, certain tumors that occur in the hand, pregnancy, gout and hormonal changes associated with menopause.

The diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is made the complaints a patient has, the finding on examination which include numbness in the distribution of the nerve, weakness of the hand, decreased strength of the hand, and a positive respond to nerve compression tests.  The EMG is the definitive test for carpal tunnel as it measures the speed that the nerve conducts an electrical impulse, it will always be slowed in carpal tunnel. 

Treatment options are a trial of conservative therapy with splints, anti-inflammatory medications, vitamin B6, and possibly steroids.  Failed conservative treatment requires surgery and there are several options for carpal tunnel release.  The exact approach for release depends on the surgeon and the severity of the condition.  Untreated, carpal tunnel is a progressively debilitating condition that can adversely affect the function of one’s hand. 

If you think you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, call for a consultation at 845-294-3312.

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