Helping Hands with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

1 decade 1 year 6 months ago Sunday, April 15 2007 Apr 15, 2007 Sunday, April 15, 2007 9:19:19 PM CDT April 15, 2007 in News

In this week's Your Health with Angie Bailey, we take a look at a local doctor who's lending a helping hand.

A lot of those who have carpal tunnel don't know the early symptoms. The most common symptom is that your hands and fingers become numb and tingly while you're sleeping, causing you to wake up frequently during the night.

Dr. Matt Anderson has been an orthopedic surgeon at MU since June. He's an expert on relieving pressure for those with questions about carpal tunnel syndrome.

"I hope that people can come away with a basic understanding of the anatomy and causes of carpal tunnel syndrome and what kind of symptoms are related to that, so that they know when its appropriate to seek medical attention from a doctor," Anderson said.

Lisa Crowley helped coordinate the event and says information like this is important to the community.

"We like to go out to the community and present our orthopedic surgeons and give them an opportunity to see what type of services we do provide," said Crowley of MU Health Care.

Dr. Anderson hopes that having an open forum will help people better understand treatments.

"The simplest forms of treatment are activity modification, wearing a splint at night, sometimes trying an anti-inflammatory medicine, but as the severity of symptoms increases, we tend to need more things, such as injections, or sometimes surgery," Anderson said.

Dr. Anderson says surgery has advanced enough that now most people can return to work one to two days later.

Taken from www.ehand.com:

Symptoms usually start gradually with frequent burning, tingling, or itching.  This is usually accompanied by numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. Some carpal tunnel sufferers say their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent.

The symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, since many people sleep with flexed wrists. A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may wake up feeling the need to "shake out" the hand or wrist. As symptoms worsen, people might feel tingling during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks.

In chronic and/or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people are unable to differentiate between hot and cold by touch.

Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps because the carpal tunnel itself may be smaller in women than in men. The dominant hand is usually affected first and produces the most severe pain. People with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that directly affect the body's nerves and make them more susceptible to compression are also at high risk.

Carpal tunnel syndrome usually occurs only in adults. The risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is not confined to people in a single industry or job. However, it is especially common in those performing assembly line work such as manufacturing, sewing, finishing, cleaning, and meat, poultry, or fish packing.   In fact, carpal tunnel syndrome is three times more common among assemblers than among data-entry personnel. A 2001 study by the Mayo Clinic found heavy computer use (up to 7 hours a day) did not increase a person's risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

During 1998, an estimated three of every 10,000 workers lost time from work because of carpal tunnel syndrome. Half of these workers missed more than 10 days of work. The average lifetime cost of carpal tunnel syndrome, including medical bills and lost time from work, is estimated to be about $30,000 for each injured worker.

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