Carpal Tunnel Syndrome A Common Ailment
Posted August 7, 2003 2:52 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Carpal tunnel syndromecan be a real pain -- especially for people like James Valentine, who have the condition in both hands.
The pain used to keep Valentine up all night and interfered with his job.
"I used to use a cordless drill and I'd have to stop, because my arm and hands would start aching and be numb," he said.
Dr. James Post, a hand surgeon at the Raleigh Hand Center, said
carpal tunnel syndrome
is the most common injury he sees.
"It probably represents 10 to 15 percent of the patients in this practice," he said.
Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve, which travels from the wrist to the hand, is compressed or pinched. Symptoms include pain in the hand and wrist, numbness or tingling.
Some people think carpal tunnel is caused by repetitive stress, like typing. Post said that happens in a very small amount of cases. Most cases have no known cause.
"Most jobs, at best, may aggravate the symptoms," he said.
Treatments usually include a wrist splint, therapy and steroid injections. If those treatments fail, the next step is surgery to cut the ligament that runs across the wrist.
"It dramatically increases the amount of room for the nerve and takes the pressure off the nerve," Post said.
Valentine had surgery in both of his hands. He said he feels better and is working to regain his strength.
Post warned of tenderness, but Valentine said a little tenderness is nothing compared to the pain he used to have.
"That's not a very good feeling," he said.
Carpal tunnel is more common in people who do assembly work, have arthritis, diabetes or other health problems. Women are also more likely to get it during pregnancy.