According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually start gradually, with frequent tingling or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers. These symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, and you may wake up feeling the need to “shake out” the hand or wrist. As symptoms worsen, you might feel tingling during the day and have a decreased grip strength that may make it difficult to form a fist or grasp small objects. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, find out if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome by attending an upcoming lecture discussing the condition or schedule a free screening offered by Silver Cross Hospital.
Free Lecture – Aches & Pains: Wrist & Hand Pain
Join an Occupational Therapist with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital for a discussion on how carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to arthritis and share simple exercises to help prevent and relieve the pain. The program will occur on Monday, March 2 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. This free Aches & Pains: Wrist & Hand Pain program is part of an Aches & Pains Lecture Series which also includes seminars on sinus pressure and low back pain. Register to attend online or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325). All participants will receive a gift bag that includes a complimentary carpal tunnel or low back screening performed by a physician with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross, and other items to help you stay active.
Free Carpal Tunnel Screening
Occupational therapists will evaluate and discuss therapy options for individuals experiencing pain, numbness, or tingling in the wrist or fingers. Occupational therapists with RIC at Silver Cross will offer free carpal tunnel screenings on Tuesday, March 3 and Thursday, March 5 at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital-Pavilion A-New Lenox and on Wednesday, March 11 at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross, 1051 Essington Rd, Joliet. Call 815-300-7110 (Pavilion A) or 815-300-6580 (West Joliet) to schedule an appointment.
“Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes squeezed at the wrist,” says Linda Brunner, occupational therapist with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital. “The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The carpal tunnel, which is a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm.”
Treatments for Relief
Rest: Initial treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome generally involves resting the affected hand and wrist for at least 2 weeks, avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms, and immobilizing the wrist in a splint to avoid further damage from twisting or bending. If there is inflammation, applying cool packs can help reduce swelling.
Drugs: In special circumstances, various drugs can ease the pain and swelling associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers, may ease symptoms that have been present for a short time or have been caused by strenuous activity.
Therapy: Rehabilitation can be helpful for people whose symptoms have escalated. Therapy is supervised by a physical or occupational therapist, who are trained to use exercises to treat physical impairments, and teach people skills to improve their health.
Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome following treatment is rare. “If treated early, carpal tunnel symptoms usually go away with nonsurgical treatment,” said Linda.