In most people, the pain, tingling, and numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome worsens with time. This is especially true if you ignore symptoms and keep doing the repetitive activity that contributed to its development in the first place.
At Plastic Surgery Arts Center in Webster, Texas, our skilled plastic surgeon, Dr. Jan Garcia, offers hand reconstruction to restore health to a hand that’s compromised due to carpal tunnel syndrome. You don’t want to reach this point, however.
Here’s how early diagnosis, lifestyle changes, and treatment can help you avoid surgery and help prevent worsening of carpal tunnel symptoms. Know that if you don’t take action, carpal tunnel syndrome is unlikely to heal on its own.
About carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed. This nerve travels through the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments, to provide sensation in the hand and fingers. If the area around the carpal tunnel becomes irritated or inflamed, the tissues swell and put pressure on the median nerve, causing uncomfortable symptoms in your hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include tingling and numbness in your thumb ,index, middle and/or ring fingers. Nerve pain can also show up as electrical pain and can travel up your arm.
You’ll also notice weakness in your hand, and you may drop objects due to numbness or a decreased ability to grasp.
Carpal tunnel syndrome usually worsens with time
While at first you may be able to “shake out” your hand and restore feeling and relieve pain, with time, the numbness and weakness in the hand will likely become constant. If you notice symptoms, even if they seem mild, seek treatment.
Finding relief from carpal tunnel syndrome
Mild symptoms of carpal tunnel may go away when you wear a wrist splint or avoid certain aggravating activities. Applying cold packs to your wrist and hand can also help reduce inflammation.
You can’t really heal carpal tunnel syndrome or prevent it from developing if you’re prone to the condition, but you can keep it from progressing by:
- Reducing your force while typing
- Relaxing your grip on pens or other instruments
- Regularly resting or stretching your hands and wrists during repetitive activities
- Putting your wrist in a neutral, or relaxed, position so it’s not unnaturally bent up or down
- Practicing good posture
- Using an ergonomic computer mouse
- Keeping your hands warm
Often, though, factors you can’t control are causing your carpal tunnel syndrome. These include anatomic factors, nerve-damaging conditions, and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Obesity and the use of some medications can also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome development.
Women are also at greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome as compared to men. This can be especially true during pregnancy.
So, what happens if carpal tunnel syndrome worsens?
You may be able to control some symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen. You may also benefit from corticosteroid injections that help reduce inflammation. Treating the underlying reason for your carpal tunnel syndrome, like obesity or rheumatoid arthritis, can also help you get relief.
If your body doesn’t respond to these treatments and your symptoms are severe, Dr. Garcia may recommend surgery. This surgery relieves pressure on your median nerve by cutting the ligament pressing against it.
If you’re struggling with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that are interfering with your life and work, contact Plastic Surgery Arts Center in Webster, Texas, to find out about your treatment options. Call today or use the “book online” button on this website to request an appointment.