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What You Should Know About Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel is a very common condition. The median nerve provides feeling to the skin of the thumb, index and middle fingers, as well as half the ring finger.

The nerve also provides the communication line to the muscles at the base of the thumb. When it becomes damaged you can experience pain and a loss of function that can significantly impact your quality of life. Seeing a doctor, without delay, is important.

The hand and wrist specialists who practice as part of Beebe Healthcare’s hand team are trained to diagnose and treat carpal tunnel. In most cases, they recommend non-surgical treatment first; things like physical therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and use of a brace or splint. If these conservative approaches to care don’t resolve the problem, you may be a candidate for surgery.

The good news is that the procedure is fairly simple, common, and almost always performed on an outpatient basis (meaning you get to go home the same day). Recovery time varies for each patient.

Are you wondering if the time is right to schedule an initial consultation? Consider the following facts:

  • The pain is real. Hand and forearm pain, tingling, and numbness are how many patients describe the problem. In tandem, some say the pain is like a sharp burning stab, and others explain it as a constant ache.
  • The first sign may be at nighttime. Many patients say their pain was first experienced at night, and then it eventually became a daytime problem, too.
  • You may have difficulty performing everyday tasks. Simple things like holding and using your phone, gripping a steering wheel, holding the handle of your coffee mug, or buttoning up your shirt might become painful or difficult tasks, if you have carpal tunnel.
  • There is a genetic component. If any of your close biological relatives had carpal tunnel, you may be more likely to face this issue, too.
  • It gradually gets worse. Once they present, carpel tunnel symptoms tend to worsen over time.
  • If left untreated, the problem can become permanent. Don’t assume this is an issue that will go away on its own. If you do, you are running the risk of having a permanent medical issue that cannot be treated properly down the road.

Talk to your primary care provider today about a possible referral, or visit our Orthopaedic Services Page to learn more.