It can cause permanent damage but fixing it is easy, if you catch it in time.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects over 9.5 million Americans each year, and while it isn’t a fatal illness, it can really put a halt on your life. With numb, painful fingers and wrists, it can make getting about daily life debilitating.
Here are 7 things to know about it, and why you should seek treatment soon, if you think you have it.
1) It Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage
So, this is a biggie. Carpal tunnel syndrome can come and go, but if it lingers around long enough, it’s certainly bad news. The good news is that you can do something about it.
The condition arises when the median nerve that runs from your arm into your hand is compressed by a ligament that crosses over it. Sometimes wearing a splint for a while can be enough to make your symptoms subside.
If the nerve is compressed for long enough though, the muscle around it shrinks, causing permanent nerve damage.
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What should you do if you suffer from tingling, pain and numbness in your hands? See a doctor right away for a proper diagnosis.
If you need surgery, it’s quick and the ligament that’s causing the damage can be released.
2) Surgery Only Takes About 10 Minutes
Having a surgeon fix your problem may sound serious, but it’s a minor procedure. It only takes about 10 minutes, and you can have local anesthetic to do it, without having to be put under.
3) It Doesn’t Affect Your Baby Finger
According to the experts, the symptoms of carpal tunnel include numbness and a tingling sensation in parts of your hand. This includes just half of your ring finger, your middle finger, the index finger and your thumb but not your pinky.
Your smallest finger isn’t connected to the same nerve as everything else and gets off scot-free.
4) It Isn’t Caused by Typing
Carpal tunnel syndrome is commonly associated with typing too much. In fact, keyboards and desk accessories have been designed specifically to help users avoid the trials and tribulations of getting it.
But apparently we’ve all been led up the wrong tree. More recent research has shown that composing those lengthy emails probably actually isn’t at the root of your problem.
If you’re working on a construction site with heavy equipment vibrating in your hands though, that’s another matter.
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5) It Can Wake You Up At Night
Carpal tunnel problems can actually be so bad that they wake you up at night. In fact, you may find that your symptoms only arise or worsen at night time.
Taking an aspirin or ibuprofen might help it feel better, but a true solution needs a medical diagnosis.
6) Women Get It More Than Men
For various reasons, women are more susceptible to getting carpal tunnel syndrome than men. It can arise during and after pregnancy due to hormonal changes in your body. And it can certainly hurt.
It’s definitely a challenge when you really need your hands for specific tasks like changing diapers and cuddling a baby, but it feels like you’re ripping steel when you lift a finger. We’ve been there-it gets better.
The upside is that you may have to wear your hand in a splint for a year or so until the symptoms subside, but they should go away eventually.
7) It Could Be Something Else
If your hands are hurting like the Dickens, it’s important to seek medical advice not only to avoid permanent nerve damage, but also because your symptoms could actually be caused by something different. It’s possible that you could have a pinched nerve in your neck, or arthritis. Get the attention you need, and stay healthy.
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