If You Dont Think Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Can Go Away On Its Own Theres Actually More Hope Than Youve Been Thinking About This Common And Sometimes Very Painful Condition
Why doesnt carpal tunnel syndrome ever resolve on its own?
Actually, it can if its at a lesser stage with minimal nerve compression, says Alejandro Badia, MD, FACS, a renowned hand and upper limb surgeon and owner of Badia Hand to Shoulder Center in Doral, FL., and founder of OrthoNOW, the only urgent orthopedic care franchise in the world.
CTS is caused by metabolic factors, says Dr. Badia.
Its not activity related for the most part, and if the thickening of the membrane diminishes, the pressure on the nerve will diminish and it can go away.
When To Get Surgery
“The mistake that people often make is waiting too long to get surgery,” says Dr. Rozental. “I see a lot of people who say that their numbness was gradually worsening and now their hand is completely numb and has been for a year.” If the nerve is compressed long enough, the muscle atrophies and the nerve damage becomes permanent, she says.
So, if your carpal tunnel symptoms aren’t responding to other treatments, take action quickly.
The surgery takes 10 minutes under a local anesthetic. Unless you do a job that involves manual labor, you can typically go right back to normal activities, says Dr. Rozental.
“I tell my patients all the time that a carpal tunnel release done at the right time for the correct diagnosis is very successful,” she says.
How Does The Carpal Solution Work
The Carpal Solution gently tugs simultaneously at three key points on the palm surrounding the carpal tunnel during sleep. Consistent gentle stretching action applied for 6 to 8 hours while the hand is relaxed, decompresses and reshapes the soft tissue around the carpal tunnel relieving pressure on the Median Nerve.
After trying immobilizing wrist splints or rigid braces, localized steroid injections, and extended rest from activity, most CTS Sufferers find themselves in the reluctant position of prioritizing their daily activities and putting whole segments of their former lives on hold, trying to avoid high risk Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery. Since surgery has not proven effective for a high percentage of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome sufferers, most CTS Sufferers look to surgery as a last resort and are determined to find other less invasive ways to control their symptoms.
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What Is Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
Carpal tunnel release is usually an outpatient procedure. Its one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States.
Carpal tunnel surgery involves cutting a ligament around the wrist to relieve pressure on the medial nerve. After surgery, the ligament grows back together, leaving more room in the carpal tunnel for nerves and tendons to pass through.
The surgery can be done under general anesthesia, which makes you fall asleep, or with a local anesthetic, numbing just the hand and arm.
There are two ways to perform carpal tunnel release surgery:
- Open Carpal Tunnel Release Your doctor will make an approximately 2-inch incision to open your wrist and cut the carpal tunnel ligament.
- Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release Your surgeon will make two small incisions . One incision will go on the palm of your hand and one on the wrist. A tiny camera goes into one incision. The camera provides a picture of the inside of your wrist on a monitor while the doctor inserts a small knife into the other incision to cut the ligament.
The benefits and risks of each surgery are pretty similar, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. As with any surgery, there are some risks involved.
These complications of carpal tunnel release surgery are the most common:
- Damage or injury to the medial nerve
How Carpal Tunnel Release Can Help
Whenever possible, Dr. Saylor tries nonsurgical treatments first to resolve carpal tunnel syndrome.
Conservative treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome can vary from medications, steroid injections, and wrist splints to physical therapy and improving body mechanics. However, if your symptoms dont respond to these therapies or if you have severe median nerve constriction, Dr. Saylor could recommend minimally invasive carpal tunnel release surgery.
During this procedure, Dr. Saylor makes a small incision in your wrist and inserts an endoscope with a tiny camera on the end. This thin, tube-like device enables him to see your carpal tunnel channel and perform your entire surgery without making a larger incision.
To release your carpal tunnel, Dr. Saylor inserts miniature surgical instruments through the small incision and cuts the transverse carpal ligament, which stretches across the top of the channel. This releases pressure on your median nerve immediately by creating more space in the carpal tunnel.
Finally, Dr. Saylor closes your incisions with small stitches, and you go home the same day.
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Mildstage Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
Mild numbness or tingling
The early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome constitute themild stageof the condition. The most common early signs carpal tunnel arenumbnessor tingling in the hands or fingers. Usually the fingertips are the first to feel numb or tingly.
Oftentimes, patients will describe a tingling or pins-and-needles feeling. Some patients may describe the tingling aselectric shocksin the index, middle or ring fingers. The electric shocks can shoot up the hand to the arm.
Sometimes the numbness or tingling can travel from your wrist up your arm. These symptoms most often happen while holding asteering wheel, phone or newspaper. Bending your hand forward or back too far can produce finger numbness as well.
Other patients report constant burning, itching or soreness. Others say their hand or fingers feel puffy. But the puffy feelings arejust feelings there’s no visible swelling or puffiness.
Usually numbness or tingling symptoms first appear when trying to sleep at night. Patients wake up with numbness and try to shake it out. As a result, many people lose sleep because they awaken and have to shake out their hands several times each night.
This is the point where most patients realize they have a problem. They also begin realize they have functional problems with their hands in the form ofweaknessorclumsiness.
Physiotherapy For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain and swelling, and improving strength and range of motion to avoid long-term damage.
It is very beneficial if your carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed early. At pt Health, youll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem.
Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome can include:
- Exercises and stretches including behaviour or habit changes
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How To Help Carpal Tunnel Go Away On Its Own
It wouldnt literally be resolving on its own youd have to take certain measures.
In the early stage if you wear a splint at night and avoid putting pressure on the nerve, particularly as you sleep, the symptoms often do go away, says Dr. Badia.
Incidentally if they do not, the only treatment is surgical, but its extremely easy, and theres a huge amount of major misconceptions about this.
Its actually the easiest and most reliable procedure that any hand surgeon does.
Over half of us do it endoscopically, meaning the incision can be less than a centimeter.
Usually requires one absorbable stitch thats it, and totally outpatient.
Patients are able to use their treated hand immediately in normal everyday functions, but pushups or similar motions that stress the wrist are restricted for two to three weeks.
Perhaps youve heard of a treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome in which the hand is placed, alternating fashion, in very warm water and then in icy water.
This may relieve pain but will not make the carpal tunnel syndrome go away the water immersions will not release the median nerve from its compression.
Dr. Badia is a founding member of the American Hand Institute, a think tank and medical device start-up company focused on minimally invasive solutions to hand, wrist and elbow pathology. orthonowcare.com
Top image: Shutterstock/Image Point Fr
How Do You Treat Carpal Tunnel
Because carpal tunnel symptoms are exacerbated by repetitive motions or the use of your hands, its best to take frequent breaks during the day to prevent worsening pain. Another simple solution for immediate carpal tunnel relief is to apply cold packs to the forearm and wrist to reduce inflammation and pain. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can also help to manage pain and swelling.
Here are some of the other common approaches to healing carpal tunnel:
1. Physical Therapy: For those with mild symptoms or a desire to seek non-invasive treatments, repeated use of stretches and wrist exercises, coupled with the cessation of overactivity, can be a viable solution for managing pain.
2. Wrist Splints: Even if you opt to exclusively wear a splint during sleeping hours, splinting can reduce symptoms of numbness and tingling. This approach is popular as it is non-invasive and brings real relief.
3. Corticosteroid Injections: For some, splinting and physical therapy are not enough. For these people, regular cortisone injections may relieve symptoms of inflammation and pain on the median nerve in the wrist. This is an option for those who need more relief but dont want surgery.
4. Carpal Tunnel Release: This is the final, and most invasive, form of carpal tunnel treatment. It requires surgery to cut the ligament which is putting pressure on the median nerve. After the procedure, the patient will participate in 4-6 weeks of physical therapy to get back on track.
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What Are The Risks Of Carpal Tunnel Surgery
As with most surgeries, carpal tunnel release is not without its risks. Your wrist will be made numb and you may be given medicine to make you sleepy and not feel pain for the procedure. In some cases general anesthesia is used, this when drugs are used to put you into a deep sleep during surgery. Anesthesia poses risks for some people. Other potential risks of a carpal tunnel release surgery include:
- Injury to the median nerve or nerves that branch out from it
- Injuries to nearby blood vessels
- A sensitive scar
The recovery from carpal tunnel surgery takes time anywhere from several weeks to several months. If the nerve has been compressed for a long period of time, recovery may take even longer. Recovery involves splinting your wrist and getting physical therapy to strengthen and heal the wrist and hand.
There may be other risks, depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.
Why You Should Never Delay Treatment For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It all starts with a tingling in your hands, perhaps some numbness, and before you know it, your entire arm is in agony or your hand doesnt function properly. This progression is not uncommon when it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, which is why seeking help sooner rather than later is so important.
At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Fitzgibbons specializes in treating this debilitating wrist problem in his patients in Bethesda and Germantown, Maryland. And before you let his title scare you, surgery is not the de facto treatment for this condition — especially if you get his help early on.
Heres a look at carpal tunnel syndrome and what measures we can take to give you full function and feeling in your hand again.
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How Do I Get Ready For Carpal Tunnel Surgery
- Tell your doctor about all medicines you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. You will probably need to stop taking any medicines that make it harder for the blood to clot, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen.
- If you’re a smoker, try to quit before to the surgery. Smoking can delay healing.
- You may need to get blood tests or an electrocardiogram before surgery.
- You will usually be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6 to 12 hours before the surgery.
Based on your medical condition, your doctor may request other specific preparations.
About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed. This nerve travels through the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments, to provide sensation in the hand and fingers. If the area around the carpal tunnel becomes irritated or inflamed, the tissues swell and put pressure on the median nerve, causing uncomfortable symptoms in your hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include tingling and numbness in your thumb ,index, middle and/or ring fingers. Nerve pain can also show up as electrical pain and can travel up your arm.
Youll also notice weakness in your hand, and you may drop objects due to numbness or a decreased ability to grasp.
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The Carpal Solution Nighttime Stretching Treatment Provides Over 220 Hours Of Gentle Consistent And Targeted Stretching At Three Key Points During Sleep
This type of passive stretching is the best way to free up blood circulation and allow it to penetrate deeply into the injured tissue. It also restores flexibility to the soft tissue and allows more movement of white blood cell rich lymph fluid through the lymphatic system.
Inflammation can then be dispersed through natural circulation pathways and toxins removed systematically and consistently as your body is designed to function for optimal healing.
Remove Toxins, Disperse Inflammation and Restore flexibility to injured soft tissue. This is what is achieved when you apply the natural stretching treatment of the Carpal Solution Therapy each night during sleep.
Some people wonder how can stretching applied to my skin achieve benefit in my deep tissues. The lymphatic vessels are attached to the skin with small elastic fibers. When you stretch the skin, youre manually pumping the lymphatic vessels simultaneously. Also, when the Carpal Solution is applied with the right tension and no overlap of the strap tapping system, it puts your whole hand in a state of decompression allowing for full blood circulation to return to your hand and wrist.
It is also important to understand some basics about your bodys natural healing process and why your bodys healing process gets disabled and cannot perform its normal function with the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
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Ignoring Symptoms Of This Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Can Lead To Permanent Nerve Damage
First, you may notice tingling or numbness in your fingers that comes and goes. Over time, the sensations may get worse, lasting longer or even waking you up at night. Eventually the pain and numbness might even make it hard to grip things like a fork, a pen, or other objects.
If you’re having these symptoms, it could be carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the median nerve which runs down your arm and into your hand is compressed by a ligament that crosses over it as it passes through a narrow space in the wrist known as the carpal tunnel.
“Carpal tunnel syndrome has classic symptoms, which include numbness and tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger,” says Dr. Tamara Rozental, professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of hand and upper extremity surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Your little finger is typically not affected because a different nerve serves it.
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Physical And Occupational Therapy
A physical or occupational therapist can assist you in a variety of ways. They may recommend stretching and strengthening activities for your hand and wrist muscles. They can also teach you how to modify your daily actions to reduce stress on your hands and wrists. This is especially useful when it comes to work-related or leisure-related chores.
Did You Know Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Is Incurable
What most people don’t appreciate is that carpal tunnel syndrome isincurable. That’s not to say you can’t overcome it. In a way, it’s likediabetes. Nobody can cure diabetes. But with insulin and pills, you can treat it so that symptoms don’t take over and rule your life.
Similarly, carpal tunnel can be treated quite effectively, too. You have bothsurgicalandnon-surgicaloptions to choose from.
The key is to not allow carpal tunnel symptoms to get too far along. The quicker you treat it, the better your treatment results.
In themildstage, carpal tunnel syndrome is relatively easy to treat. But havingseveresymptoms means the median nerve is already badly damaged. At that point it’s much harder to treat.
Unfortunately, most people don’t rush to treat carpal tunnel when it’s in the mild stage. In fact, even though thewarning signs of carpal tunnelare well known, most people ignore them until the condition is in the severe stage.
The amazing fact is that early treatment is almost 100% successful when carpal tunnel is in the mild or moderate stages. In contrast, waiting and treating severe stage carpal tunnel syndrome is several times more difficult. And for certain, the outcome is not as good as treating early.
Therefore, early treatment is key to attacking the problem before it worsens.
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Will Cts Clear Up On Its Own
When your CTS pain is due to the collapse of the carpal tunnel and pressure on the median nerve, discontinuing the action or posture that causes the collapse releases the nerve. With rest, inflammation subsides and tissue can return to normal. It is possible for CTS to heal on its own.
However, its often impossible to completely avoid motion or activities that cause the collapse, so the release of the median nerve isnt complete. Without full healing, youll remain vulnerable to re-injury.
When CTS is due to an anatomical issue or nerve damage, chances for spontaneous healing plummet dramatically since easing a carpal tunnel collapse may not release the nerve, or the condition of the nerve itself may make it prone to damage.
Since you may be free of symptoms before an episode of CTS fully heals, its difficult without medical care to fully resolve your CTS symptoms. Diagnosis often requires medical imaging and nerve tests, and you may benefit from treatments such as wrist splints or occupational therapy. Steroid injections are another common treatment.
In worst-case scenarios, surgery to create more room for the median nerve may be necessary, but taking action on CTS symptoms in the early stages may help you avoid aggressive treatment.
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