This wrist pain and hand numbness is killing me... Can`t sleep through the night!
5 February 2019| Last updated on 5 February 2019
How many women have spent countless nights with interrupted sleeps, forced to sit upright with distressing wrist pain shooting up the arm with a sense of pins and needles in the hand and having to `shake out` their hands in a futile attempt to relieve the anguish!
With others feeling frustrated of objects frequently dropping off their `suddenly sleeping` hands! That`s indeed not the ideal quality of life any woman deserves.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of one of the main nerves of the upper limb; the median nerve, as it passes through your wrist and into the hand. The median nerve is located on the inner side of your wrist (an area known as; the carpal tunnel).
This nerve provides sensation to your thumb, index finger, long finger, and part of the ring finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome may occur in any, or both of your hands.
It is considered one of the most common nerve compression problems world-wide. Due to certain reasons which will be discussed below, swelling ensues inside your wrist and causes the compression of the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel.
It can lead to numbness, weakness, and tingling of the involved fingers of your hand.
For most patients, the cause of is unknown. Any condition that may lead to a swelling inside the tunnel and exerts pressure on the median nerve at the wrist can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Some of the prime suspects linked with this common ailment include diabetes, hypothyroidism, obesity, pregnancy, previous wrist trauma/fracture, autoimmune illnesses (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis).
Moreover, tendon inflammation resulting from repetitive occupational activities, such as uninterrupted typing or piano playing and poor positioning of the wrist while using the mouse / keyboard, can be a possible cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Usually the initial symptoms are a feeling of numbness and tingling of your hand in the distribution of the median nerve (the thumb, index, middle, and thumb side of the ring fingers). These sensations are often more obvious at night and can awaken you from a nice deep sleep. As the problem progresses, you can develop a burning sensation, and/or cramping and weakness of the affected hand.
You may start complaining of frequent dropping of objects from the hand inadvertently, this is happening due to decreased grip strength. Occasionally, sharp shooting pains can be felt in your forearm.
Now you got me concerned… what should I do to get diagnosed?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is suspected based on presenting complaints and the distribution of the hand numbness.
Seeking medical attention at this stage is advisable, your trusted orthopedic expert will inquire about any associating health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, or hypothyroidism, and whether you are pregnant, he would also inquire about your daily routine and any recent activities that could have hurt your wrist.
Next, your doctor will clinically assess the feeling, strength, and appearance of your neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands to exclude other conditions that can mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. Your wrist is examined for swelling, warmth, tenderness, deformity, and discoloration. According to the clinical assessment, certain blood tests, radiological tests and/or neurological tests may be required.
What then? Is it treatable?
Well off course Yes! … The choice of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends largely on the severity of your symptoms and any underlying ailment that induces those symptoms.
Initial treatment usually includes home care; rest, immobilization of the wrist in a splint, and occasionally ice application. Those whose occupations are aggravating the symptoms should modify their activities (e.g. computer keyboards and chair height may need to be adjusted to optimize comfort and prevent wrist over-extension).
These measures, plus periodic resting and a possible prescription of an oral anti-inflammatory medication, can actually prevent the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that are caused by repetitive overuse.
The good news is that most patients with carpal tunnel syndrome improve with conservative measures and medications. Occasionally and in a minority of cases, chronic pressure on the median nerve can result in persistent numbness and weakness.
So, in order to avoid serious and permanent nerve and muscle consequences, a microsurgical procedure is considered to reduce pressure on the median nerve.
A final advice, the sooner you start treatment the better your chance of stopping symptoms and prevent long term harm to the nerve and your hand muscles.
Authored by Dr. Kutaiba Salman, MD
Hand & Wrist Expert
Danish & Swedish Board