If you’ve been diagnosed with a repetitive strain injury, you probably have something like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or “dorsal wrist syndrome.” Millions of Americans suffer these maladies, but each person’s cause can be different. Any job has different requirements that may cause repetitive stress to a different part of the body that may not be designed for it.
Repetitive strain damage comes from structural changes in the muscle fibers and decreased blood flow in the affected areas. It may be a nerve problem, but the nerve ISN’T the problem! If you have these issues, it’s because inflamed tissue around the nerve is impinging on the nerve. Some activity is moving the joint or muscles in a way that they aren’t supposed to, and it’s causing the inflammation.
Symptoms may often be relieved without surgery. Identifying and treating medical conditions, changing the patterns of hand use, or keeping the wrist splinted in a straight position may help reduce pressure on the nerve. Wearing wrist splints at night may relieve the symptoms that interfere with sleep. A steroid injection into the carpal tunnel may help relieve the symptoms by reducing swelling around the nerve.
When symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be needed to make more room for the nerve. Pressure on the nerve is decreased by cutting the ligament that forms the roof (top) of the tunnel on the palm side of the hand (see Figure 3). Incisions for this surgery may vary, but the goal is the same: to enlarge the tunnel and decrease pressure on the nerve.
Following surgery, soreness around the incision may last for several weeks or months. The numbness and tingling may disappear quickly or slowly. It may take several months for strength in the hand and wrist to return to normal. Carpal tunnel symptoms may not completely go away after surgery, especially in severe cases.
If you feel that you have a repetitive stress issue, please call the office at Neuropax Clinic at 314-434-7784 to make an appointment. Don’t live in pain another day if you don’t have to. Visit www.neuropaxclinic.com for more information.