Have you been having tingling and the feeling of pins and needles or numbness and pain in your hand? If so, you may havebeen told that you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common complaint that involves inflammation of the median nerve. This nerve begins in your neck, and goes to the thumb, index, and middle fingers. The “carpal tunnel” is the area in your wrist where the nerve enters the hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome shows up as numbness or tingling with weakness in your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Problems on the pinky side of the hand are likely NOT carpal tunnel syndrome.
This nerve can become inflamed or compressed anywhere between your neck and wrist. Common trouble spots are around your collar bone (clavicle) and chest muscles (pectoralis minor), and in the elbow area. Trigger points or inflamed muscles in the neck, shoulder, and forearm can also mimic carpal tunnel symptoms. These areas need to be considered and examined when looking at pain and numbness often diagnosed as a carpal tunnel problem, especially if carpal tunnel surgery is being recommended.
CTS has become a “catch-all” diagnosis for any numbness or tingling in the hand. An EMG may be performed in an attempt to locate nerve damage, but it rarely tells why the damage is occurring!
Typical medical treatment involves anti-inflammatory medication or injections, bracing, and exercises for stretching the wrist. In persistent cases surgery may be recommended.
Some patients respond well to surgery; yet many continue to lose strength after the procedure, and it’s not uncommon for symptoms (pain and/or tingling) to return. This is usually because the cause(s) of the pain and numbness problem wasn’t properly evaluated and treated. A thorough evaluation of the of the spine, arm and hand as noted above is essential for proper treatment.