Carpal Tunnel Myths Debunked

Carpal tunnel syndrome manifests itself in different ways depending on the individual, but among the most common carpal tunnel symptoms are: numbness and tingling on certain fingers; pain radiating to the forearm, arm, neck, or shoulders; weakness of grip; and severe night time hand pain.

There are several popular misconceptions about carpal tunnel. The physicians at Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas want you to be well informed about this condition so we came up with a list of common myths about carpal tunnel and then we proceeded to debunk these myths with hard facts:

  •  There is a test to determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome

Since carpal tunnel is a “syndrome” and not a “disease” it cannot be diagnosed based on a single criteria or test. Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed by an experienced physician based on the patient’s history, a physical examination, and additional tests, such as the EMG/NCV (electromyelogram and nerve conduction velocity), and diagnostic steroid injections, among others.

  • Carpal tunnel is caused by repetitive use of computer keyboards, gaming controls and other hand-held devices

Repetitive stress injuries can, in fact, occur with the constant use of these devices. However, studies performed on the cause-effect relationship between carpal tunnel and repetitive use of hand-held devices have produced no conclusive evidence. That is to say: the recurrent use of a keyboard or electronic hand-held devices does not guarantee that you have carpal tunnel syndrome or will have it in the future.  Carpal tunnel actually develops over many years as the space for the median nerve within the carpal tunnel is gradually reduced.

Improper wrist position can increase pressure on the median nerve and either cause carpal tunnel symptoms or make them worse.

  •  All hand/wrist pain is linked to carpal tunnel

 If you suffer from hand and/or wrist pain it does not necessarily mean you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. There are many conditions and hand problems that cause hand pain. It is extremely important that you see a hand specialist to get a proper diagnosis for your particular hand problem.

  • Carpal Tunnel is more common in men

 Contrary to this popular belief, studies suggest that women are three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel than men. However, since men are more frequently associated with the type of activities that can lead to developing carpal tunnel, many have assumed that the condition is more common in men than women.

  •  Open Surgery is the only option to cure Carpal Tunnel

There are, in fact, plenty of other non-surgical and surgical options to cure carpal tunnel. In terms of non-surgical options, a patient might try: splints, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, oral steroids, injected steroids, and physical therapy. However, non-surgical options do not have a very high rate of success.

As for surgical options, the experienced physicians at Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas recommend a minimally invasive procedure called Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release. This procedure takes less than 10 minutes, it can be done as a same-day procedure and it requires no stitches, which means there will be no scarring afterwards. The recovery time for endoscopic carpal tunnel release is fast: the patient’s night time pain will be gone the evening after the surgery, and the numbness and tingling usually resolves gradually within 3 months. This procedure should be performed by an experienced hand specialist and only after proper carpal tunnel diagnosis.

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Clear Lake, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown