A number of people have some familiarity with carpal tunnel syndrome, a common condition that can cause hand pain and numbness. Unfortunately, many of these people also spread misconceptions about this condition. Carpal tunnel syndrome (sometimes referred to by its abbreviation, CTS) is a condition that feels like tingling, numbness, and pain in the fingers and hands.
Let’s run down some of the most common myths about carpal tunnel syndrome and reveal the facts behind them below:
THE MYTH: All tingling sensations and/or hand pain immediately means carpal tunnel syndrome, especially for people on their computers for prolonged periods of time.
THE FACTS: The first sign of tingling, pain or numbness usually has people assuming carpal tunnel syndrome is afoot. It’s particularly true for people who sit at a computer all day. It’s true enough that typing on a keyboard and/or using a computer mouse all day can lead to stiffness and aches in the hands and wrists. After all, they’re repetitive motions. However, carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t necessarily the goings-on.
THE MYTH: Carpal tunnel syndrome is only likely for people who type all day or work in a factory.
THE FACTS: According to one study, work-related conditions such as repeated and sustained hand motions, heavy work with the hands and wrists, and varying hand motions over time are all associated with an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
There is no clinical evidence that carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by work-related issues, such as typing on a keyboard for long periods of time or regularly using vibrating hand tools. Experts believe that stress at work may aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome in people who have other risk factors (such as a history of diabetes and advanced age, among others).
THE MYTH: Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is usually not successful.
THE FACTS: A common and largely successful surgery, carpal tunnel release is used to treat patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, which is when pressure on the median nerve causes pain and disability in the hands. This surgery involves cutting the transverse carpal ligament that is compressing the median nerve.
Most people who undergo it experience a full recovery. That said, weeks of physical therapy will likely be needed to restore the previous grip and heal.
THE MYTH: Surgery is the only way to relieve carpal tunnel pain.
THE FACTS: Relieving the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t automatically depend on surgery alone. Many nonsurgical treatment options exist in order to bring relief, which is ideal, especially for people who are averse to surgeries. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Receiving steroid injections
- Resting the wrist by avoiding repetitive motion or heavy use
- Taking NSAIDs or diuretics
- Taking an oral corticosteroid such as prednisone
- Using ice therapy
- Wearing a wrist brace
It should be noted that immediate surgery at the soonest possible time is advised for severe carpal tunnel syndrome that involves possibly permanent damage to the median nerve or muscle wasting.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that leads to feelings of numbness, tingling and pain in the fingers. While it’s widely-known, the details aren’t clear to everyone. Popular myths surrounding it include surgery being the only way to relieve pain, which is simply not true.
Do you need carpal tunnel syndrome surgery? Contact North Florida Hand and Wrist today! We’re expertly-trained hand and wrist surgeons dedicated to providing patients with the best care possible.