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Hand & Wrist Q&A's

Hand & Wrist Q&A's

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

I have occasional pain in my thumb, but no other part of my hand. The pain is occasional and usually goes away, but there are times when it worsens, like when I play tennis. What is causing this and how can I prevent it?

I jammed my little finger about two weeks ago. It swelled and was painful, but eventually the pain and swelling went away on its own. I didnít have any problems with it until a couple days later, when the pain started to flare up again. Now I have bouts of pain, but only occasionally. I can still move it, so I donít think itís broken. Whatís going on?

Ever since I started swelling from my pregnancy, Iíve experienced pain in my hands. Is there anything I can do to relieve the pain? I donít want to take too many over-the-counter medications because of the baby.



What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm to the hand. When increased pressure is placed on the nerve, it triggers a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Basically, CTS is a pinched nerve that can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as numbness, tingling and pain in the arm, hand and/or fingers. It is unknown exactly what causes the increased pressure, but it is believed that fluid retention, poor ergonomics and adverse conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can be underlying causes.

Dr. Andrew Foret, hand & wrist specialist, Center for Orthopaedics




I have occasional pain in my thumb, but no other part of my hand. The pain is occasional and usually goes away, but there are times when it worsens, like when I play tennis. What is causing this and how can I prevent it?

It is not uncommon to have pain in the thumb and nowhere else in the hand. In fact, the most common location for arthritis in the hand is located in the CMC joint of the thumb. It could be argued that the thumb suffers from the most strenuous wear-and-tear when compared to our other fingers. Since the pain is only occasional and typically goes away on its own, you may be able to handle symptoms at home. Try an over-the-counter medication and see if that eases the pain. You can also take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication before the pain begins, particularly if you plan to engage in physical activity. Make sure you engage in proper conditioning before you play tennisóstretch and warm-up all your joints, including your hands. 

Conditioning canóand shouldóbe done on the hands and wrists before exercise or repetitive activity. Try this: Stretch your hands and arms in front of you with your palms facing down. Then raise the fingers, as if you are about to push someone. Hold this position for eight seconds and release. Then make a fist with both hands and bend your wrists down. Hold this for eight seconds before releasing. Straighten your fingers, hold for five seconds, and then repeat the exercise five times.

Dr. Andrew Foret, hand & wrist specialist, Center for Orthopaedics




I jammed my little finger about two weeks ago. It swelled and was painful, but eventually the pain and swelling went away on its own. I didnít have any problems with it until a couple days later, when the pain started to flare up again. Now I have bouts of pain, but only occasionally. I can still move it, so I donít think itís broken. Whatís going on?

Itís difficult to tell whatís going on without a physical examination, but this type of pain can come from a joint sprain or even a small broken bone. The swelling and pain may not subside until the injury is properly treated. Keep in mind that the hands and wrists are comprised of more than two dozen bones each. The hands are a complex system and although some injuries are obvious, others can be more subtle. I recommend that you visit a hand and wrist specialist to make sure that your finger doesnít suffer further injury.

Dr. Andrew Foret, hand & wrist specialist, Center for Orthopaedics




Ever since I started swelling from my pregnancy, Iíve experienced pain in my hands. Is there anything I can do to relieve the pain? I donít want to take too many over-the-counter medications because of the baby.

Pregnancy swelling can put pressure on the nerves of the hands and wrists, causing symptoms that mirror carpal tunnel syndrome, including pain, tingling and numbness. To ease these symptoms, avoid caffeine. Try not to sleep on your hands. If you have a job that involves repetitive motions like typing, be sure to rest your hands frequently. If the pain becomes overly uncomfortable, consider a wrist brace that holds the wrist in a neutral position.

Dr. Andrew Foret, hand & wrist specialist, Center for Orthopaedics


 

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