Symptoms and Treatment for the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Chicago IL
What is the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?
CTS is the name for a group of problems that include swelling, pain, tingling, and loss of strength in your hand and wrist. Your wrist is made up of small bones that form a narrow canal or carpal tunnel. Tendons and nerves called the median nerves pass through this tunnel from your forearm to your hand. The median nerve controls sense and sensation on the palm side of your thumb and fingers. Sometimes the swelling and irritation of the tendons put pressure on the nerve in the wrist, causing the symptoms of CTS. Skillful hand is usually affected. However, about half of the people with CTS have symptoms in both hands.
CTS has become more common in the US and is quite costly in terms of loss of work ability and expensive medical treatment. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that in 2015 the average number of days absent from work per STC was 28 days.
What are the symptoms of CTS?
CTS usually starts slowly with burning, tingling, and numbness sensations in the wrist and hand. The most affected areas are the thumb, index finger and middle finger. In the beginning, symptoms appear more often at night. Many people with CTS do not find the connection between a daytime activity that may be causing the CTS and late symptoms. Also, many people sleep with a bent wrist, which can cause more pain and symptoms at night. As CTS worsens, tingling may be felt throughout the day as well, along with pain that runs from the wrist to the arm or to the fingers. Pain is usually felt in the palm of the hand.
Another symptom of CTS is weakness in the hands, which worsens over time. Some people with CTS have trouble picking up an object, making a fist, or grasping a small object. You may also feel swelling in your fingers even though they are not inflamed. Over time, this feeling will appear more often.
If left untreated, CTS can cause loss of feeling in some fingers and permanent weakness of the thumb. Over time, the thumb muscles may disappear. Eventually, people with CTS may have a hard time differentiating hot and cold to the touch.
It is important that a doctor treat CTS to prevent permanent damage to the nerve in the wrist and the muscles of the hand and thumb. The underlying causes, such as diabetes or a thyroid problem, must be treated first. If left untreated, CTS can cause nerve damage leading to loss of sensation and strength in the hand. Over time, the thumb muscles can become weak and damaged. You may even lose the ability to distinguish hot and cold by touch. Permanent damage occurs in about 1 percent of people with CTS.
How is CTS treated?
It is much easier to treat CTS in the early stages. Most CTS patients improve after the first few treatments and the following tips to protect the wrist. Treatments for CTS include the following:
- Splinting of the wrist. A splint can be used to hold the wrist in a neutral position so that the nerves and tendons can recover. It can be used 24 hours a day or only at night. Sometimes wearing a splint at night helps reduce pain. A splint does its best when used within three months of having symptoms of CTS.
- Repose. In people with mild CTS, stopping or doing a repetitive movement less often is all that is needed. Your doctor will surely talk to you about the steps you should take to prevent CTS from coming back.
- Medicines. The short-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be helpful in controlling CTS pain. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-prescription pain relievers. In severe cases, swelling can be reduced with a cortisone injection. Your doctor can also give you corticosteroid pills. But these treatments only temporarily relieve symptoms. If CTS is caused by another health problem, your doctor will likely treat that problem first. If you have diabetes, it is important to know that long-term use of corticosteroids can make it difficult to control insulin levels.
- Physiotherapy. A physical therapist can help you perform special exercises to strengthen your wrist and hand. In addition, there are many different types of treatments that can improve CTS and relieve symptoms. Massage, yoga, ultrasound, chiropractic, and acupuncture are some of the options that can help. You should speak with your doctor before trying these alternative treatments.
- Surgery. Surgery for CTS is one of the most common surgeries in the US Surgery is generally reserved only for severe cases of CTS and / or after other treatments have not worked for a period of at least six months . Open release surgery is a common method for CTS and involves making a small incision in the wrist or palm and cutting the ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. This surgery is done under local anesthesia to numb the wrist and hand area and is an outpatient procedure.
If you want to see if chiropractic care is right for your condition, please contact our chiropractors for carpal tunnel syndrome treatment in Chicago to get the appropriate treatment for you. Call or contact us today to schedule an appointment.