Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects many people in all kinds of jobs and careers. If you have a job where you're constantly typing, you may be at a greater risk of developing this condition. However, there are also other things that cause carpal tunnel syndrome, too.
At the Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico, our experienced staff is fully committed to giving you the treatment you need. Dr. Omar Osmani is an orthopedic surgeon who helps you figure out what's causing your carpal tunnel so you can help prevent problems in the future.
Carpal tunnel explained
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in your wrist that causes pain and numbness in your hand and sometimes your arm. To understand how this happens, you need to know a little about the anatomy of your hand. There’s a small canal that runs on the underside of your hand, known as the carpal tunnel.
The carpal tunnel is surrounded by the bones and ligaments in your hand and wrist. If the median nerve, which runs through this canal, becomes compressed by inflammation in the area, you end up with carpal tunnel syndrome. When the nerve becomes irritated, it can cause a variety of symptoms such as:
The pain of carpal tunnel syndrome may be severe enough that it keeps you up at night and unable to sleep comfortably. Numbness and tingling sensations may spread from your hand up your arm, especially at night.
You may also notice that you have some weakness on the affected side. This may cause you to drop things more frequently, or be unable to open jars or lids easily. Although this may be a nuisance, it’s important to see Dr. Osmani when these symptoms begin interfering with your daily activities or sleep patterns.
But what makes you susceptible to this condition? The truth is, there are many risk factors that can contribute to pressure on your median nerve. Some of the more prevalent factors that may increase your chances of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Wrist injuries
- Certain medications
- Inflammatory diseases
- Chronic conditions like diabetes
- Being overweight
Although you aren’t able to avoid all of these risk factors, knowing what causes carpal tunnel syndrome can help you avoid the pain of nerve damage in the future.
Does typing really cause carpal tunnel?
If you’re like most people, you probably think that repetitive computer use involving typing and using a mouse is the main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. This, however, is actually not the case at all.
As listed above, there are many risk factors that make you prone to developing this condition. That isn’t to say, though, that there aren’t other causes of carpal tunnel to be aware of. Researchers have linked jobs that deal with repetitive vibrations from heavy machinery to an increased risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
The fact is, any profession or hobby that requires you to make repetitive wrist movements can put you at risk for this disorder. Some of the professions that fit in this category include:
- Hair stylist
- Assembly line worker
- Construction jobs
Hobbies such as knitting or sewing can also lead to the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. Computer use may play a small role in compression of your median nerve, but not as much as some other activities or professions.
What to expect from treatment
Treatment for this disorder depends greatly on the severity of your condition and how much it’s affecting your daily activities. Dr. Osmani discusses all of your treatment options after performing a thorough history and physical exam of your affected hand.
The first line of treatment for this condition is usually conservative in nature. Dr. Osmani may recommend rest and anti-inflammatory medications. He may also suggest using wrist splints at night to keep your wrist in a neutral position or steroid injections to cut down on the inflammation.
If your carpal tunnel syndrome is severe and doesn’t respond to conservative treatments, Dr. Osmani may recommend surgery, called a carpal tunnel release. This surgery is performed under mild sedation, and involves a tiny incision on the palm side of your hand. The procedure only takes about 20 minutes, and you’re able to go home the same day.
Whether or not your carpal tunnel is caused by typing, we can get you the treatment you need. When you're ready to explore your treatment options, call our office at 575-623-9101 or book an appointment with one of our providers online today.