Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition of the upper extremity that is known as the most common nerve compression to occur in the body. It affects approximately 3% of the population and can cause many debilitating symptoms that affect a person’s daily life. In fact, because of its commonality and significance of symptoms, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of work time lost in the U.S., making this an important diagnosis to understand and be aware of. In an effort to build better awareness of this diagnosis, here are some commonly addressed questions regarding carpal tunnel syndrome:
You just completed your visit with your physician. He/she has likely given you a list of dos and don’ts after your injury or surgery. How important is it to follow these rules? What could happen if these precautions are not followed? What are the long-term effects of doing too much of a good thing or doing the wrong thing?
In a previous blog post we discussed some of the common injuries that can occur in musicians due to the repetitive and sustained nature of playing an instrument. These can include pain and cramping of the neck and shoulder. Numbness, tingling, heaviness, tremors and pain can occur in the wrist and hand, and fingers can become “stuck” in a bent position.
While a musician may seek treatment when these injuries occur, we as clinicians would prefer to help musicians learn to prevent these injuries in the first place. This can help prevent loss of playing time, income, and the ability to participate in their passion. Fortunately, there are techniques that can be learned in order to keep a musician’s body “in tune” – learning body awareness, healthy practice and play, and maintaining general health and wellness.
The definition of an amputation is “the action of surgically cutting off a limb,” however, an amputation can also happen by accident. Many times, an amputation of the hand, finger or arm is the result of a tragic accident, but amputations can also be planned surgeries to prevent the spread of a disease. Sometimes, fingers that were amputated in an accident can be reattached by a hand surgeon, but this isn’t always possible.
If you’ve suffered an injury, are recovering from surgery or are living with a condition that affects your hands, chances are you’ve seen a hand therapist or have received instructions to do so by your hand surgeon. Hand therapists are essential to helping patients recover from injuries or surgeries and can help those in pain get back to living a normal life. Hand therapists and hand surgeons often work closely together to determine the best outcome for their patients.
Raising children is rewarding. It is also a lot of work. Parents and caretakers don’t always pay attention to how they are using their hands or arms for everyday tasks involved in childcare. The focus of attention is most often on taking care of the child’s needs, not the proper way to lift or position their body. Repeating tasks in poor positions will result in overuse injuries. If you are a caretaker for a young child and are experiencing hand discomfort, here are some signs of overuse and what to do about it!
Sometimes we can do a great job taking care of ourselves during the day, but our sleep positions can undo all our hard work. Many of the problems that hand therapists treat, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, arthritis, or even tendonitis can be exacerbated by pressure while we are sleeping. This pressure can worsen symptoms like swelling, numbness, tingling, and pain.
How does this happen?
Sometimes the positions in which we sleep place our spine, joints, and soft tissues under compression, tension, or both. Our nerves are especially sensitive to this. For example, when we sleep in a “fetal position,” the nerves in our wrists and elbows can be compressed at the point where our arms and wrists bend. They can also be put under tension which can cause irritation and aggravate symptoms like numbness, tingling, and/or pain. Another example is when a pillow causes the neck to be bent in a position that can compress the nerves that travel from the spine into the arms and hands.
Hand arthritis can have a huge impact on performance of daily tasks. Activities like brushing your teeth or opening a jar can be painful and challenging. If you have pain and limitations due to hand arthritis, there are many products available to help improve hand function.