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That Temporary Cramp May Actually be Carpal Tunnel

In many cases, carpal tunnel syndrome is ignored for years and passed off as a temporary cramp of the hand and wrist. However, chronic pain in the hand may be evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome. This painful and progressive condition is caused by compression to the median nerve that runs down the arm into the hand. The median nerve is responsible for controlling sensations to the palm of the fingers and impulses to some muscles in the hands.

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The carpal tunnel refers to a pathway containing ligament, tendons, and bones that also hosts the median nerve. This narrow and rigid passageway thickens when tendons are irritated, causing compression on the median nerve. Patients who develop this condition will have resulting pain, weakness, or numbness in their hands and wrist. Pain can sometimes radiate up the arm, making routine tasks feel impossible.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a kind of entrapment neuropathy, where the body’s peripheral nerves become compressed and manipulated. This condition causes distorted information to the nerves, most often leading to disabling pain. People who develop carpal tunnel will typically have symptoms of burning/tingling numbness in the hand and fingers, swollen hands, decreased grip strength, and decreased sense of temperature change.

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According to research, women are three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men. This may be because women’s hands are smaller, implicating smaller carpal tunnels themselves. A person’s dominant hand is at a higher risk of being affected by the condition and will typically produce the most pain. In a lot of cases, carpal tunnel develops as a result of overuse, and therefore usually occurs in adults.

Based on an evaluation from your Pain Center physician, a treatment plan will be designed uniquely for each patient. Various nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce pain and swelling (ie aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers). Other conservative treatment options include corticosteroid injections and lidocaine injections. These injection therapies may provide temporary pain relief for people with mild to intermediate symptoms. Exercise, toga, and acupuncture may also benefit a person suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

If conservative treatments are ineffective, surgery may be an option. Your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure that goes in to correct the compressed carpal tunnel. Endoscopic surgery allows the surgeon to make smaller incisions, allowing faster recovery and less postoperative discomfort.

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