Patients routinely come to us with complaints of numbness and tingling in their hands from repetitive tasks such as working on the computer. The obvious next questions are always, “Do I have carpal tunnel syndrome?” and “Will I need surgery?”
There are many common, low-severity, non-operative causes of hand pain and numbness. These include, but are not limited to:
- neck spasm
- poor sleep positions
- chest muscle tightness
- stiffness of muscles in the forearm
- nerve or vascular compression NOT in the carpal tunnel that can develop from work and sport activities.
When you have carpal tunnel syndrome, the tunnel of bones and ligaments in your wrist has narrowed. As a result of this, a nerve gets pinched, causing numbness or tingly feeling in your hand. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome you may have difficulty playing a video game or typing on the computer.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness, weakness, tingling, or pain in the hand, wrists or fingers. Some people may experience pain in their arm between their elbow and their hand. Symptoms are most often experienced in the index finger, middle finger, and thumb. If someone has troubles with their other fingers but their little finger does not bother them, this may be an indication that they have carpal tunnel syndrome. Some people have sore wrists from performing activities such as driving, cooking, household chores, or cleaning.
Pressure on the median nerve can result from swelling or anything that causes the carpal tunnel to get smaller. This swelling can be caused by many things including illnesses such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnancy can also cause this swelling. Making the same hand movements repeatedly, especially if your wrist is bent down, or making the same wrist movements repeated, can cause this swelling.
Your physician will want to know if you have health conditions such as diabetes hypothyroidism, or arthritis, or if you’re pregnant. The doctor will ask if you hurt your arm, wrist, or neck. He or she will ask about your daily routine and other recent activities or tasks that could have injured hurt your wrist. The doctor will also check the strength, feeling, and appearance of your hands, arms, neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists. Your doctor may order tests, such as nerve tests or blood tests.
Mild symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome usually can be treated using home care. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can also be treated by stopping activities that cause pain and numbness. You can rest your wrist longer between activities. Try putting ice on your wrist for several minutes one or two times an hour. You can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Wearing a wrist splint at night takes pressure off the median nerve. It is recommended that you start treatment as soon as you experience symptoms in order to prevent long-term damage to the affected nerve.
Your health care provider may also give you medicine for carpal tunnel syndrome. Surgery is may be needed if symptoms are so severe that you can’t perform normal tasks even after adequate and proper treatment.
It is important to take steps to ensure good fitness and health and to keep carpal tunnel syndrome from bothering you or coming back. Maintain a healthy weight, and don’t smoke. Be sure to exercise to stay flexible and strong. If you are dealing with a health issue, such as diabetes or arthritis, follow your physician’s advice for keeping your illness under control.
If you have the occasional pins and needles feeling in your hand, please consult with us our Great Moves Physical Therapy Clinic today. We make sure that the correct tests are performed, either in our clinic or by another clinician if necessary, to ensure that you know what is causing your symptoms so they can be treated immediately and appropriately.
Call Great Moves today at (719) 477-6870. We’re ready to help get you pain-free!