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Carpal Tunnel: What You Need to Know

March 28, 2018

If your hands ache after a day at the computer or you can’t open a jar without help, how do you know if it’s a sign of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Stephen Scarangella, MD, director of the Hand Program at Windham Hospital, suggests asking yourself these five questions before making a call to an orthopedic specialist for help with your hand pain and weakness.

  1. Are your fingers or palms (on one or both hands) often numb or tingly?
  2. Do you notice your palms or fingers feel itchy or like they’re burning for no reason?
  3. Are your symptoms worse at night?
  4. Have you lost grip strength in your hand or feel clumsy holding or opening things?
  5. Do you experience pain that shoots from your hand up your arm to your shoulder?

“Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is simply a compression of the nerve that runs from the hand through the wrist at what is called the ‘carpal tunnel,’” Dr. Scarangella explains. “It can be caused by repetitive motion at work, injury, rheumatoid arthritis or even obesity. Anything that causes pressure on that nerve can be a problem.”

If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions, he suggests talking to your primary care provider about the possibility that you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A specialist can diagnose the syndrome by talking with you and having x-rays taken of your hand(s) and wrist(s).

Treatment can range from wearing a splint on your affected hand to immobilize it and ease the pressure on the nerve in the carpal tunnel, cortisone injections, physical therapy and/or surgery.

For more information on the Hand Program at Windham Hospital, go to www.windhamhospital.org. Dr. Scarangella, with occupational therapist Karen Pankowski, will also host a free talk on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on Thursday, April 5 from 6:30-8 p.m., at the hospital. To register, go to www.windhamhospital/events or call 1.855.HHC.HERE (1.855.442.4373).