How Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Affects More than Just Your Wrists & How a Doctor Can Help

Carpal tunnel syndrome, a disorder which was previously only associated with secretaries and machine gun handlers, has been identified with more careers than previously thought. Anyone with repetitive motion careers or jobs that require holding onto vibrating machinery (like a jackhammer) are susceptible as well. The disorder causes intense pain in the wrists when the carpal tunnel compresses on the median nerve, which runs from your neck to the wrists and hands. The disorder affects much more than your wrists, but a hand doctor can help.

Other Areas Affected by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Your hands, fingers and even forearms can be affected by this syndrome as it progresses in severity. Your fingers will lose all sensation until you cannot feel them or control them. The muscles in your thumbs will atrophy until you cannot move your thumbs or grasp anything. As for your forearms, the pain will be so great that picking up anything, even without the use of your hands, will be quite impossible.

As for your daily life, you will not be able to touch, feel, grasp, grab, carry, lift or do any sort of work-related tasks that require the use of your arms, fingers and hands. Driving is out because you will not be able to grasp the steering wheel, hold it and turn it. Even dressing and bathing will be difficult unless you seek treatment early on. 

How a Hand Doctor Can Help

Hand doctors, also known as orthopedic specialists and surgeons, can diagnose and treat carpal tunnel syndrome in its earliest stages. When caught sooner, you can stop all of the behaviors and activities that may have caused it and then begin to treat the symptoms. The orthopedic specialist will assess the severity of the syndrome in your hands and wrists to determine if there is anything he/she can do to prevent the progression of the disorder. This may mean that you have to stop working for quite some time to prevent the total loss and use of your hands fingers and wrists.

Then the specialist may try to save your wrists, hands and fingers by:

  • Giving you shots of cortisol for pain and halt muscle atrophy
  • Prescribing wrist splints and supports
  • Prescribing physical therapy and/or exercises for you to do at home to keep the muscles and tendons stretched and healthy
  • Surgery (as a last resort), which cuts the carpal tunnel ligament so that compression on the median nerve is no longer an issue

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