If you suspect carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s important that you quickly receive a medical diagnosis. While you may be able to reduce your pain temporarily through rest, this common ailment isn’t going to heal itself.
There are many symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- Tingling and burning in your thumb and palm
- The feeling of small electric shocks in your fingers
- Hand weakness, especially when trying to hold something
- Tingling that starts in your hand and spreads to your arm
Even though carpal tunnel syndrome is relatively common, many people aren’t sure of how it happened to them. While there are many causes, repetitive motion, such as in the workplace, tends to be one of the biggest.
For example, if you use your hands and wrists day after day to complete the same task, it can eventually result in carpal tunnel syndrome. This is common in people who type for a living, such as writers and secretaries.
Other risk factors include:
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity and hypothyroidism
- History of carpal tunnel syndrome in your family
- Past dislocation or fracture of your wrist
In addition to an in-office physical exam, your doctor can run a variety of tests to determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. This includes an X-ray, MRI, ultrasound, nerve conduction study, and electromyogram.
What’s next if you have carpal tunnel syndrome?
If you’re diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will help you devise a treatment plan for ending your pain once and for all. This can include the following:
- Lifestyle and work changes, such as taking more breaks
- Exercising and stretching your hands before use
- Immobilization, such as through the use of a splint
Along with the above, the most serious cases of carpal tunnel syndrome often call for surgery. Known as a carpal tunnel release, this increases the size of the tunnel that your nerves passes through, thus releasing some of the pressure.
If your carpal tunnel syndrome is a result of your employment, share your diagnosis with your employer along with the treatment plan suggested by your doctor. Should you be unable to work for an extended period of time, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to help with your finances as you recover.