In this day and age, a large number of people are working on the computer or using phones for multiple hours each day. One of the common issues that can occur at the wrist and hand, because of the constant repetitive hand use seen while utilizing these pieces of technology, is called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). This occurs when one of the nerves that innervates the hand, the median nerve, gets compressed through the carpal tunnel by the flexor retinaculum or the transverse ligament that runs across the wrist like a bracelet.. Signs of having CTS can include pain, numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, and middle finger that can wake you up at night, and is somewhat relieved by shaking the hand. You may also notice that you’re dropping items out of your hand more often and having difficulty picking up small objects. Differentiating between CTS and other pathologies requires meeting with a medical profession, but some quick tests that you can perform at home is putting pressure across the wrist to see if this reproduces your pain.
Patients that are predisposed to getting carpal tunnel are also predisposed to getting other pathologies that also cause numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers including cervical disk pathology, thoracic outlet syndrome, and upper cross syndrome. If you suspect that you may have possible CTS, your physician will most likely perform an EMG to measure nerve conduction velocity to determine the area that the nerve root compression is occurring. This is to ensure that you don’t continue to have symptoms even after your carpal tunnel release because the pain was actually caused by something further up the chain.
If you suspect that you have CTS or were recently given a diagnosis of CTS, we would like to give you some exercises and pain reducing options to utilize at home . First and foremost, decreasing the amount of time spent on activities that exacerbate or increase your symptoms is important. A lot of times, the repetitive nature of typing on the computer can irritate the nerve as it glides in and out of the sheath surrounding it. Secondly, light stretches of the wrist forward and backward in pain-free ranges can help to glide the tendon through the sheath and decrease inflammation. During our video on Facebook, we will show you an activity called a nerve glide that will help improve the mobility and irritability of the median nerve.
If you have any questions or need us to help to determine where your upper extremity numbness and tingling is coming from call us at (817)923-9000. We don’t mind answering questions via phone, email, or setting up a quick 15 minute free screen for you. Thanks for reading, and we hope to hear from you soon!