Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sore Wrists And Hands Can Result From Our Work: But Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Date:
March 30, 2008
Source:
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Summary:
Do you feel numbness, burning pain or a tingling sensation in your hand or wrist that seems to increase at night; have difficulty holding objects without dropping them; or find it increasingly difficult to perform repetitive movements such as using your computer mouse or keyboard without pain? If so, then you may be one of the estimated 2 million people in the United States affected by carpal tunnel syndrome.

Hand X-Ray.
Credit: Image courtesy of American Association of Neurological Surgeons

Do you feel numbness, burning pain or a tingling sensation in your hand or wrist that seems to increase at night; have difficulty holding objects without dropping them; or find it increasingly difficult to perform repetitive movements such as using your computer mouse or keyboard without pain? If so, then you may be one of the estimated 2 million people in the United States affected by carpal tunnel syndrome, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. About half of all cases are work-related, and in fact, carpal tunnel syndrome accounts for the highest average number of days missed at work, when compared to all other work-related injuries or illnesses.

An estimated 260,000 carpal tunnel surgeries are performed annually in the United States, and of those, more than 35,000 were performed in 2006 by neurosurgeons, according to AANS statistics. A neurosurgeon’s primary role in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosis, interpretation of test results, and when necessary, surgery. There are frequently other medical professionals involved in the treatment process, such as physical therapists.

Carpal tunnel syndrome most often occurs when the median nerve in the wrist becomes inflamed, caused by a combination of thickened ligaments over the nerve and repetitive movements. “Carpal tunnel syndrome is most prevalent in women ages 40 to 60, and also tends to affect people more frequently who use their hands excessively, such as pianists, concert violinists, hairdressers, computer operators, manual laborers, artists, sculptors, dentists, and even neurosurgeons,” says James R. Bean, MD, AANS president-elect.

Any repetitive motions that cause significant swelling, thickening or irritation of membranes around the tendons in the carpal tunnel can result in pressure on the median nerve, disrupting transmission of sensations from the hand up to the arm and to the central nervous system.

Diseases or conditions that may increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy, diabetes, menopause, broken or dislocated bones in the wrist, and obesity. Additional causes include repetitive and forceful grasping with the hands, bending of the wrist, and arthritis.

It is important to seek medical advice when you first notice persistent symptoms. Do not wait for your pain to become intolerable. Before your doctor can recommend a course of treatment, he or she will perform a thorough evaluation, including a medical history, physical examination and diagnostic tests. Your doctor will ask about the extent to which your symptoms affect daily living. Sometimes a case turns out to be tendonitis and not carpal tunnel, but only a doctor can make a proper diagnosis.

The main purpose of conservative treatment is to reduce or eliminate repetitive injury to the median nerve. In some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated by immobilizing the wrist in a splint to minimize or stop pressure on the nerves. If that does not work, patients are sometimes prescribed anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections in the wrist to reduce swelling. Your doctor may suggest specific types of hand and wrist exercises, which may be helpful. Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include rest, the use of a wrist splint during sleep, or physical therapy. Conservative treatment methods may continue for up to eight weeks.

If conservative treatment methods do not provide sufficient relief, your doctor may perform diagnostic studies to determine if surgery is an effective option. These diagnostic tests include x-rays and electromyogram and nerve conduction studies. X-rays can help determine if any abnormalities in bones of the wrist may be contributing factors. Electromyogram and nerve conduction studies can reveal significant compression on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.

If patients suffer from severe pain that cannot be relieved through rest, rehabilitation or nonsurgical treatment, there are several surgical procedures that can be performed to relieve pressure on the median nerve. The most common procedure is called a carpal tunnel release, which can be performed using an open incision or with endoscopic techniques. The open incision procedure or carpal tunnel release, involves the neurosurgeon making an incision in the wrist or palm and then releasing the ligament that is compressing and placing pressure on the median nerve. The endoscopic carpal tunnel release procedure involves making a smaller incision and using a miniaturized camera to assist the neurosurgeon in viewing the carpal tunnel.

Risks of carpal tunnel surgery are minimal. The majority of individuals recover completely. “The results of surgery are usually excellent, with most patients receiving nearly full relief of their symptoms. The earlier you get diagnosis and treatment, generally the better the outcome,” states Dr. Bean.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Association of Neurological Surgeons. "Sore Wrists And Hands Can Result From Our Work: But Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328113442.htm>.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons. (2008, March 30). Sore Wrists And Hands Can Result From Our Work: But Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328113442.htm
American Association of Neurological Surgeons. "Sore Wrists And Hands Can Result From Our Work: But Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328113442.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC says a new case of Ebola has not been reported in Nigeria for more than 21 days, leading to hopes the outbreak might be nearing its end. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) The newly appointed head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, outlines operations to tackle the virus. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC has confirmed the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. The patient is being treated at a Dallas hospital after traveling earlier this month from Liberia. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) In a clinical trial, breast cancer patients lived an average of 15 months longer when they received new drug Perjeta along with Herceptin. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins