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Learn More About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome April 8, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

Tingling in the Arms and Hands Should be Properly Diagnosed

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- April 4, 2008 – While wrist and arm pain associated with tingling in the fingers is more likely due to carpal tunnel syndrome, this condition should be quickly and properly diagnosed to rule out more life-threatening conditions, according Victoria Burt, a nurse practitioner at University and regular guest on NBC Augusta’s Healthy U segment. Healthy U airs in the 11 a.m. newscast each Tuesday.

“Hand tingling has become a common problem in today’s work place,” Ms. Burt said. “Tingling is usually a sign of a problem with the nerves, most often carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a known contributor to workplace absences. However, it is best to see your health care provider to get a definite diagnosis and proper treatment.”

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder of the hand in which swollen or inflamed tissue in the wrist presses on the nerves of the hand. Besides tingling in the hands, other signs of carpal tunnel syndrome include the following:

  • Numbness, burning or pain in the arms and fingers, especially at night
  • Clumsiness that causes dropping of objects
  • Trouble making a fist
  • Severe cases weakness or paralysis in the fingers or entire hand

Women are at a greater risk due to the small size of the carpal tunnel in the wrist. If the syndrome occurs on one side, it may be from doing repetitive hand or wrist action that requires bending and straightening of the wrist like computer work, assembly-line work, cashier operation or needlework.

If it occurs on both sides, it may be from diabetes, thyroid disease or associated with hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause.

Fortunately, the following steps can be taken to prevent or reduce the symptoms:

  • Take a break at least once an hour when doing repetitive work using the hands
  • Shaking the hands or dangling the arms
  • Hang the arms over the side of the bed at night
  • Wear a wrist brace
  • Be sure the desk, keyboard and chair are at the proper height

“Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed through a physical exam that includes a nerve test or x-rays,” Ms. Burt explained. “Early diagnosis is important because if symptoms are ignored, they will progress and possibly become permanent.”

Carpal tunnel syndrome is treated by resting the wrist and wearing a split, taking anti- inflammatory medications like Motrin or Advil, steroid injections or surgery to relieve the pinched nerve if symptoms become prolonged.

For more information about carpal tunnel syndrome or help finding a physician, call ASK-A-NURSE at 706/737-8423 or toll free at 800/476-7378.

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