It’s 3 a.m. and you wake up suddenly from a sharp pain pulsing through your wrist and firing into your hand. Wanting to be roused only by the smell of a freshly brewed pot of coffee, you try to fall back asleep, but you cannot shake the feeling that something might be wrong. You ask yourself, “Does this have anything to do with the tingling that I have been feeling in my hand?” “What about the persistent, nagging numbness in my fingers?” Putting these thoughts out of your mind, but pondering one possible explanation – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – you resolve, after that pot of coffee is finished, to make an appointment with your doctor.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition whose name is descriptive of the location that it affects. The medial nerve leads from the arm into the hand and resides within what is called the carpal tunnel. When that area is swollen and irritated, the medial nerve is compressed, causing pain, weakness, tingling, and/or numbness in the hand and fingers.
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel includes resting and icing the affected hand. When experiencing acute symptoms, some people find that a wrist sleeve or a compression glove provide the extra support that is needed. Others with more advanced symptoms may benefit from the use of a wrist brace or stabilizer. While stabilizers provide the rigid support that is needed to keep the wrist, and therefore the carpal tunnel straight, some find the rigidity to be too limiting. Braces have a lower profile on the hand, however, which allows for a greater range of movement and ease in performing daily activities such as typing, texting, and tweeting.
For some prolonged sufferers, surgery will be recommended by the doctor. During Carpal Tunnel surgery, the carpal ligament around the medial nerve is severed increasing the space available for the nerve, thereby decreasing the pressure exerted on it. Recovery time can be as long as several months, as the weakened wrist must be strengthened again through professionally recommended exercises and through daily activity.
Now that that pot of coffee is empty, it is time to call the doctor. As always, it is important to obtain professional medical advice in order to determine the proper course of action and treatment for the particulars of your condition.