BETWEEN TWO and three percent of U.S. adults suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, and many more from its close cousin, cubital tunnel syndrome. Yet many would rather live with their pain than have surgery because invasive procedures require months of recovery and scarring. Still, of the millions who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, over 200,000 a year require treatment, and there’s finally good news.
“We are now able to get our patients back to work in a matter of days instead of months, thanks to new carpal and cubital tunnel surgical techniques,” explains fellowship-trained hand surgeon Tyson Cobb, M.D., of Orthopaedic Specialists, PC, Davenport.
Days Instead of Months
Dr. Cobb is one of six pioneering surgeons in the United States who have cut recovery times from months to days with new endoscopic surgical procedures. “I perform a very small incision instead of the large open incision many doctors still use. The new endoscopic surgical techniques can relieve nerve pressure on the nerve with minimal scarring,” says Dr. Cobb.
The endoscopic carpal tunnel release procedure can take as little as 5 minutes and get patients back to work the next day. “Carpal tunnel patients can often get back to limited duty work the day after surgery. The recovery times are similarly accelerated for cubital tunnel release patients. For cubital tunnel procedures (which involve the elbow) it used to mean a 70-day recovery. We’ve cut that down to about seven days.”
And the scars? Nearly gone: Dr. Cobb’s procedure uses a tiny incision that is closed with a steri-strip, not an armful of stitches that have to be removed. With these new techniques, Dr. Cobb says there’s no reason to wait. “Not only are new treatments available that offer 10 times faster recoveries, living with symptoms can harm you in the long run. When the pressure on nerve isn’t relieved, the nerve can be damaged permanently, which lessens your chances of a full recovery.”
Carpal Tunnel Signs and Symptoms
Carpal tunnel syndrome and its related disorders are cheap cialis caused when inflammation from injury or some other source constricts the space at the bottom of the hand (the carpal tunnel) or in the elbow (cubital tunnel). That pressure restricts blood flow and impairs nerve function. In carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve doesn’t receive enough blood on its trip from the spinal cord through the carpal tunnel and into the thumb-ward half of the hand. That’s when symptoms begin. (If your symptoms show up in the pinkie-ward side of the hand, you may have cubital tunnel syndrome.)
The only sure way to know if you have a serious condition is to have a physician diagnose it. But if many of the following items sound familiar, it’s time to see a doctor to get that firm carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis:
- Numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring fingers
- Usually wakes you up at night
- Dropping things or fumbling with objects
- Weak pinch and grip,
- Gradual onset of pain.
Cubital tunnel syndrome results from compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. Sufferers experience:
- Numbness or tingling in the ring and little finger
- Weakness in the hand, tenderness at the elbow
- Sharp sudden pain on elbow contact.
Sore from Keyboarding and Texting: What’s wrong?
Nearly every sore computer keyboarder has wondered: Do I have carpal tunnel syndrome? Reporters, accountants, transcriptionists, and a whole slew of other workers spend long hours tickling the plastic. And their arms, wrists, hands, and fingers become sore.
But that soreness is not carpal tunnel syndrome — or if it is, it wasn’t caused by all that typing. “The myth that computer use causes carpal tunnel syndrome has been busted,” says Dr. Tyson Cobb, Orthopaedic Specialists, Davenport. “The science has come into clear focus.”
Repetition must be coupled with a force such as weight or vibration to cause repetitive stress injuries. Construction workers who use heavy, vibrating power tools and meat packers who repeatedly cut into heavy slabs of meat engage in labor prone to repetitive-stress injury.
Blackberry Thumb, on the other hand, can be caused by incessantly texting and emailing from smart phones. That overuse can cause arthritis of the thumb’s basal joint. Serious cases require joint reconstruction surgery. The good news is that, just like with the carpal and cubital tunnel endoscopic release surgeries, Dr. Cobb uses pioneering techniques to speed recoveries.
“No matter what your symptoms are, if the pain is ongoing, you should see your doctor,” says Dr. Cobb. “Just because it isn’t carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.”