Over the course of a day, our hands take a beating. Multiply that by months, years, and decades, it’s no wonder they often become a source of aches and pains as we age. One of their most common ailments is carpal tunnel syndrome. The good news is, thanks to Longview’s Pacific Surgical Center (PSC), relief is achievable.
The American College of Rheumatology explains that “Carpal tunnel syndrome is possibly the most common nerve disorder experienced today. It affects 4-10 million Americans and is usually very treatable. Middle-aged to older individuals are more likely to develop the syndrome than younger persons, and females three times more frequently than males.”
They describe that the carpal tunnel is found in your wrist, just beneath the surface of your palm. A literal tunnel-shaped region of bone and skin, problems arise in the nerve they shield. “When the median nerve in the wrist is squeezed (by swollen tissues, for example), it slows or blocks nerve impulses from traveling through the nerve. Because the median nerve provides muscle function and feeling in the hand, this causes symptoms ranging from mild occasional numbness to hand weakness, loss of feeling and loss of hand function.”
Some people believe carpal tunnel is caused by repetitive work or motion. But that’s more likely to worsen symptoms, not cause them. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), “contributing factors include trauma or injury to the wrist that causes swelling, such as sprain or fracture; an overactive pituitary gland; an underactive thyroid gland; and rheumatoid arthritis. Mechanical problems in the wrist joint, work stress, repeated use of vibrating hand tools, fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause, or the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal also may contribute to the compression. Often, no single cause can be identified.”
Diagnosis is done through a doctor’s exam and possible routine lab tests or x-rays. If it’s determined to be the cause of your pain and weakness, there are several possible treatments. The simplest of these is to splint and rest the area, taking anti-inflammatory painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen as needed.
When resting the affected area doesn’t reduce soreness and inflammation, a surgery known as carpal tunnel release can be done to lessen nerve pressure. If you and your doctor determine the operation is required, include the skilled surgeons from PSC in your healthcare team. They’ll readily work with you to perform an easy, outpatient procedure that will restore movement, grip strength, and pain-free living.
By using an outpatient surgery center like PSC, you’ll find benefits like “Less cost, less hassle, less waiting, less worry, more comfort, more personalized attention, more privacy, [and] more efficiency.” With specialties in orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology, podiatry, and general surgery, they’ve got it covered.
Thanks to up-front, transparency pricing, surgical costs are clearly posted online and include the facility, surgeon, and anesthesiologist fees. Complete pricing quotes are crafted and explained by financial counselors and always good for 60 days. At PSC, your cash cost may even be less out-of-pocket expense overall than with billing insurance. Though should you choose to do so, PSC staff will gladly work with you to submit the required information.
The release procedure itself is a simple one, say NINDS researchers. “Carpal tunnel release is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States. Generally, surgery involves severing a ligament around the wrist to reduce pressure on the median nerve. Surgery is usually done under local or regional anesthesia (involving some sedation) and does not require an overnight hospital stay.” Whether done endoscopically or through traditional surgery, symptoms are relieved almost immediately.
To avoid—or delay—the onset of carpal tunnel, NINDS offers up a few easy tips. “At the workplace, workers can do on-the-job conditioning, perform stretching exercises, take frequent rest breaks, and ensure correct posture and wrist position. Wearing fingerless gloves can help keep hands warm and flexible. Workstations, tools/tool handles, and tasks can be redesigned to enable the worker’s wrist to maintain a natural position during work. Jobs can be rotated among workers.”
If you suspect you’re suffering from carpal tunnel, sit down with your primary care physician to come up with a plan; don’t live with pain, weakness, and restriction any longer. If outpatient surgery is the best choice, request a PSC physician to start the process towards regaining normal range of motion.