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Community Advocacy Organization

Feeling a Tingling Sensation in Your Hand or Wrist That Won’t Go Away?

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

It Could Be a Sign of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Photo Courtesy of McLaren

Hand and wrist pain happens for various reasons, whether it is from a sudden injury such as a fracture or sprain, or an underlying issue like arthritis. Another condition that may be causing your pain is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition in which the major nerve in your hand ─ the median nerve ─ compresses and becomes narrowed, causing numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and wrist, often felt in the thumb, index, and middle finger. Over time as symptoms develop, loss of strength in the hands can progress making simple day-to-day activities, such as gripping on to something or opening a jar of food, difficult.

Tammy Woods, MD, orthopedic hand and wrist specialist at Michigan Orthopedic Center, performs surgery at McLaren Greater Lansing, and she explains that there isn’t always just one factor that can lead to CTS.

“The old wives’ tale that stated constant typing on a computer causes CTS isn’t true. There can be multiple factors as to why someone may develop carpal tunnel,” said Dr. Woods. “As you get older, you may develop CTS, and we see it more commonly in females than in males, along with diabetics.”

When someone has type 1 or 2 diabetes, nerve damage can occur as a result of high blood sugar causing a higher risk for peripheral nerve compression disorders, such as CTS.

Symptoms tend to develop gradually over time, and without treatment, can cause a negative impact on a person’s quality of life including worsening symptoms and even permanent nerve damage.

“If you are having symptoms that are not going away, talk to your health care provider right away so we can diagnose and treat you as soon as possible,” said Dr. Woods.

Non-surgical treatments such as bracing or splinting your wrist at nighttime can help, along with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or steroid injections. Some patients may also benefit from occupational therapy and stretching exercises.

If pain or other symptoms continue or worsen, surgical intervention is available. Patients can expect to have a electromyogram (EMG) test ordered as well to show whether you have any additional nerve or muscle damage.

“Surgery is an outpatient procedure done at the hospital and takes 10 to 15 minutes,” said Dr. Woods. “Local anesthesia will be given, and after surgery, patients can use their hand that same day but with restrictions.”

Recovery time is typically short, allowing you to go back to your usual activities within a few weeks.

For more information or to schedule with Dr. Woods, click here.

To learn more about McLaren Greater Lansing’s Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute, click here.

For more articles on health and wellness, click here.

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