Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects your hands or arms, causing numbness, uncomfortable tingling and an eventual weakness of the hand. According to Mayo Clinic, a pinched nerve in the wrist causes carpal tunnel syndrome.
The carpal tunnel is a small passage located on the inside of your wrist. This tunnel covers the nine tendons of the hand and fingers as well as a main nerve to the hand. A number of ligaments and bones enclose the tunnel.
Factors that contribute to the pinching of the nerve include underlying health problems. In addition, certain harmful patterns of hand use and the anatomy of your wrist are possible causes. Luckily, many people who develop this condition can find efficient treatment that alleviates the tingling and numbness while restoring proper hand and wrist function.
Types of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
The treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome varies from one patient to another and depends on the degree and duration of carpal tunnel symptoms suffered. In cases where numbness is slight, a mere shake or movement of the arm can remove numbness and you will experience wrist pain relief.
People who use computer keyboards daily are at risk for this condition. These individuals should try to avoid activities that worsen the symptoms. In the case of persistent symptoms, both non-surgical and surgical procedures are viable treatment options. This is especially true if you suffer an underlying health problem, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Traditional carpal tunnel treatments include corticosteroid injections and wrist splints. In addition, a doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also referred to as NSAIDs). Other options include stem cell treatments, chiropractic therapy, and acupuncture procedures.
Stem Cell Treatments (NeuroRejuvenation)
In recent years, stem cells have become a very popular way to treat various joint and ligament pain. At the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute, our regenerative medicine experts are excited to offer various stem cell treatments for the treatment and alleviation of joint pain. At our hand and wrist center, we provide patients with a stem cell treatment that obtains stem cells from a patient’s own fat cells. We call this treatment NeuroRejuvenation.
During a NeuroRejuvenation procedure, local anesthesia is administered to a patient and a mini liposuction is performed in order to remove the necessary fat cells. From here, the fat is placed in a centrifuge, which separates the stem cells from other tissues. These stem cells are then expertly administered into a patient’s joints and ligaments, ultimately providing pain relief and a higher quality of life.
There are many benefits to a NeuroRejuvenation stem cell treatment. Most notably, recovery and nerve regeneration is enhanced during this procedure. Additionally, since these stem cells are taken from a patient’s own body, no embryonic stem cells are used at any point in the procedure.
Wrist splints help keep the wrists in the most neutral position possible. While the splints do not apply pressure on the carpal tunnel, they prevent the wrist from bending. If the wrist bends, it can exert pressure on the median nerve and aggravate pain and other symptoms.
After four weeks of wearing the splint, you should expect positive results after which you can remove it. Ask your doctor to recommend a reputable supplier. Alternatively, purchase one from a large pharmacy or order online.
Corticosteroids are steroid medications that introduce hormones to help reduce inflammation, pain, numbness, and other symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. They are ideal if a wrist splint does not work.
Depending on the severity of your condition, Dr. Fitzmaurice may prescribe corticosteroid tablets to be taken orally. Otherwise, an injection directly into the carpal tunnel may yield results faster. The doctor should administer one injection first and observe the symptoms. If they recur, additional injections may be necessary.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery
If the above treatments do not work, carpal tunnel surgery is usually the only other alternative. Traditional carpal tunnel surgery is ideal when you still suffer symptoms after a couple of weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment. In addition, Dr. Fitzmaurice will recommend surgery when your severe symptoms hamper you from doing daily activity.
Pain that disturbs sleep, a persistent loss of feeling, poor coordination of fingers and decreased strength of the thumb need surgical remedy. Also, pursue surgery when nerve tests indicate damage to your median nerve.
Open Carpal Tunnel Surgery
During an open carpal tunnels surgery, doctors make a large incision on the transverse carpal ligament in the wrist. This incision releases pressure from the median nerve and rids you of the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. A surgeon will then make an incision on the base of the palm. The opening allows the surgeon to see and access the transverse carpal ligament. After releasing the underlying pressure, the doctor then closes the skin with a couple of stitches, leaving the cut ligament gap open. It fills up with tissue in due course.
Doctors can conduct an open carpal tunnel surgery under local anesthesia and discharge you to go home the same day. Before going home, a surgeon will wrap your hand and ask you to make another visit two weeks later to remove stitches. Usually, the pain and discomfort will have subsided by the time of your second visit.
EndoTech® Carpal Tunnel Surgery
EndoTech® is an exciting procedure offered by Dr. Fitzmaurice at the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute. This technology allows for better visibility for higher patient safety, smaller incisions in the treatment area (and less associated pain), and faster recovery with much less downtime. During this procedure, doctors use a thin flexible tube called an endoscope, which has a tiny camera attached to one end. Dr. Fitzmaurice then guides the endoscope via a small cut in a patient’s wrist or palm and is able to see the underlying structures. He then inserts tiny cutting tools via the same incision or another small one.
At this point, Dr. Fitzmaurice will cut the transverse carpal ligament, a process that releases pressure from the median nerve. As the symptoms of the syndrome diminish, the doctor closes the small incisions. The healing after an EndoTech® carpal tunnel surgery is typically faster than an open carpal tunnel surgery and often leads to better patient outcomes.
What to Expect After Carpal Tunnel Treatment
If your dominant hand was the one involved in the surgery, you will need 6-12 weeks to resume daily activities. If the operation was done on your less dominant hand, you may need just a few days of rest before resuming work. In this case, try to learn to work with the other hand.
You should not lift heavy objects or do a lot of work for three months after the procedure. The ability to return to work depends on the activities of your day-to-day employment. For faster healing, dedicate more time and commitment to physical therapy to rehabilitate the functions of your hand.
General Precautions During Healing
After surgery, you will experience reduced or no numbness and pain on the operated hand. In very rare cases, complications arise where a patient experiences a recurrence of symptoms. Since the surgeon cuts the transverse carpal ligament, you may have loss of strength when gripping or pinching things. Otherwise, only one in 100 patients report nerve damage after surgery. Few patients report effects of general anesthesia and infection.
Contact a Hand Specialist in Phoenix Today
If you are looking for the most reliable remedy for wrist pain relief, contact The Fitzmaurice Hand Institute and schedule an appointment. Dr. Fitzmaurice will conduct tests to determine the proper procedure. Following treatment, you should resume normal daily activities.
Next, read our blog, How Cells From Fat Tissue Can Rejuvenate Your Hands and Help Relieve Arthritis Pain.