Valley Healthcare

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most expensive of all work-related injuries.

CAUSES

The overuse of the computer keyboard has been blamed for many patients developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Although there is no definitive proof that this alone causes the painful condition, it seems right that anyone who spends too much time at the computer familiarize themselves with appropriate ergonomic techniques.  Similarly, other activities that depend on wrist motion such as shop work, weight lifting, and racquet sports have been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.  Carpal tunnel syndrome is most common in the middle aged and elderly, with over 80% of patients over 40 years of age. {2}

SYMPTOMS

According to doctor’s at the Mayo Clinic, pressure on the median nerve at the wrist, produced by bending the wrist, tapping on the nerve or simply pressing on the nerve, can bring on the symptoms in many people.

TESTS

Which tests can I expect from my doctor at Valley Health care?

  • Physical exam. Your doctor will want to test the feeling in your fingers and the strength of the muscles in your hand, because these can be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • X-ray. Some doctors may recommend an X-ray of the affected wrist to exclude other causes of wrist pain, such as arthritis or a fracture.
  • Electromyogram. Electromyography measures the tiny electrical discharges produced in muscles. A thin-needle electrode is inserted into the muscles your doctor wants to study. An instrument records the electrical activity in your muscle at rest and as you contract the muscle. This test can help determine if muscle damage has occurred.

Nerve conduction study. In a variation of electromyography, two electrodes are taped to your skin. A small shock is passed through the median nerve to see if electrical impulses are slowed in the carpal tunnel. {1}

 

CARPAL TUNNEL QUIZ (Write down yes or no each of the following questions)

1.  Do you frequently feel tingling or numbness in the palm of your hand and fingers (especially thumb, index, and middle fingers)?

2.  Do you frequently feel burning in the palm of your hand and fingers (especially thumb, index, middle fingers)?

3.  Do you frequently feel an itching sensation in the palm of your hand and fingers?

4. Does wearing a splint at night ease your symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

5. Do your fingers feel useless and swollen, even when no swelling is evident?

6. Even if you now experience symptoms in the daytime, do you recall your initial symptoms occurred at night?

7. Did your initial symptoms occur in one hand, rather than both hands?

8. Have you ever been awakened from sleep feeling you need to “shake out” your hand to ease symptoms?

9. Do you have decreased grip strength?

10.  Are you clumsy when handling objects?

11. Are you able by touch to distinguish between hot and cold?

12. Was your dominant hand affected first?

13. Have you ever experienced trauma or injury to your wrist which caused swelling?

14.  Do you one or more of the following underlying conditions?

a) Overactive pituitary gland
b) Hypothyroidism
c) Rheumatoid arthritis
d) Diabetes

15.  Have you experienced fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause?

16. Do you have a job which involves work-related stress of the hand (such as assembly-line workers, or working with a jackhammer)?

17.  Do you experience shooting pains which radiate from your forearm to your shoulder?

18.  Do your symptoms occur in your little finger? (The little finger is controlled by a different nerve than the median nerve.)

19.  Do your symptoms worsen when using your affected hand?

Your Score: If you answered YES to 13 or more of the above questions, there’s an excellent chance that you’re suffering from carpal’s tunnel syndrome, and may need to seek medical attention.  {3}

Call Valley Health Care today for any hand/wrist pain you may be experiencing because it’s not just going to ‘go away’ on its own.

{1} mayclinic.org
{2} orthopedicsabout.com
{3} sargentchiropractic.com


Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell has managed many specialty areas of healthcare including, kidney transplant, physical therapy and surgery.  She combines her expertise in patient relations with her love of writing to bring awareness of health related issues.   In her blog, Dreamlife Moments, she writes about mindfulness of time and recognizing more of the positive moments happening around us every day that creates a more positive life experience. Jennifer and her husband Byron are recent empty-nesters who enjoy traveling with their bichon Aissa, geocaching and volunteering wherever they go. Who is this chickie anyway? Connect with Jennifer on her Facebook Page, Blog and Twitter to find out more.