According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), repetitive strain injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are the most costly occupational health hazard. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Americans are afflicted with this type of injury, costing employers more than $20 billion a year in workers’ compensation.
For those afflicted, carpal tunnel can be a devastating disorder robbing them of beloved hobbies and preventing them from performing the skills they had spent so much time developing. In severe cases it can have debilitating results, leaving individuals unable to perform basic functions, like grasping a glass or holding a phone.
In order to prevent this condition from stealing away your favorite activities, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and receive the needed assistance before the condition worsens. Here are 5 symptoms of carpal tunnel to look for:
Pain and tingling in the night. Most carpal tunnel symptoms begin in the night. This is due to the position of the wrist during sleep, which is typically bent. If you frequently feel it necessary to shake out your hands when you wake up, this could be an early symptom of carpal tunnel. Consult a physician on the necessary preventive care that will ensure the symptoms do not worsen.
Swelling in the fingers. It is common for those afflicted with carpal tunnel to experience swelling in the fingers. Sometimes there is no actual swelling present. However, the sensation of swelling remains.
Weakness in the hands. As the symptoms progress, there may be a noticeable increase in the weakness in hands. Individuals will struggle opening jars, drop objects frequently, and find they are unable to make a fist. As symptoms worsen, individuals will struggle to manipulate small objects such as buttons or fasteners. It is common for carpal tunnel to cause weakening in the ligaments and muscles of the hand. In severe case, atrophie may occur to the muscles in the thumb, severely reducing dexterity.
Lack of sensitivity to hot and cold. With the weakening of muscles and the reduction of circulation, individuals suffering from carpal tunnel may find they have trouble distinguishing hot and cold with the touch of their hand or fingers. This dulling of sensitivity can increase as the condition worsens.
Shock moving up arm and into shoulder. In later stages of the syndrome, individuals will feel an electric shock or burning sensation moving up their arm and into their shoulder. At times, the pain can be unbearable. If left untreated the pain will increase and may even become debilitating.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a trained physician that can help. Preventive measures can be taken for those who are starting to experience symptoms. For those who have severe carpal tunnel, a non-invasive surgical option is also available. Dr. Chappell of In2it Medical specializes in a cutting edge procedure using sonography (ultrasound). This new procedure is done right in our office (instead of a hospital or surgical center) and has a that day recovery time (versus four weeks!) that has been associated with faster pain relief. Learn more about what we can do for your carpal tunnel by watching this video.
Dr. Craig Chappell is a Utah based physician that specializes in pain management without prescription drugs or surgery. He's triple board certified with an emphasis on sports injuries and helping athletes get back to activity as quick as possible.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet
National & International Statistics for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Strain Injuries of the Upper Extremity