Since carpal tunnel syndrome in Louisiana is a common condition, many people are familiar with this cause of hand pain, tingling and numbness. But this familiarity also leads to a fair amount of misinformation circulating as well.
Today we’re discussing six myths about carpal tunnel syndrome and debunking them with researched and reliable information.
Myth #1: Any hand pain or tingling is a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if you use a computer all day.
At the first sign of pain, numbness, or tingling in the hand or wrist, people may assume it’s a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if they sit at a computer for most of the day. But carpal tunnel syndrome has specific symptoms that set it apart from other conditions that can cause pain and numbness in the hand. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome typically causes tingling and numbness in the thumb, index, and middle fingers, but not the ring or pinky fingers. Also, the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome is usually worse at night.
Myth #2: Only people who work in a factory or type all day get carpal tunnel syndrome.
Work-related conditions that involve high levels of hand-arm vibration or hand force, prolonged work with a flexed or extended wrist, or high repetitiveness are associated with a higher risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, according to one systemic review of studies. However, there is no clinical evidence that work-related factors can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Myth #3: The only way to relieve carpal tunnel pain is surgery.
Once carpal tunnel syndrome has been diagnosed, surgery is not the only tool to relieve the pain. There are several nonsurgical treatment options that can bring relief for individuals who want to postpone or avoid surgery such as:
- Resting the wrist by avoiding repetitive motion or heavy use;
- Wearing a wrist brace;
- Using ice therapy;
- Taking NSAIDs or diuretics;
- Taking an oral corticosteroid such as prednisone;
- Receiving steroid injections.
If there’s a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome that involves muscle wasting or potentially permanent damage to the median nerve, then surgery is advised as soon as possible.
Myth #4: Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is often unsuccessful.
The surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, known as carpal tunnel release, is a common and largely successful procedure. Studies suggest it has a clinical success rate of 75 to 90%. Although it requires several weeks and physical therapy to restore grip strength, most patients experience a full recovery, with symptoms resolved and function restored.
Myth #5: Getting carpal tunnel surgery means missing work for a long time.
Many people are hesitant to consider carpal tunnel release surgery because they fear losing use of their hand for weeks or even months, or they don’t feel they can take enough time off work. But the recovery period for carpal tunnel release can be relatively quick—light non-repetitive use of the hand is permitted after about a week, when the bandage is removed.
Patients who had the procedure in their dominant hand or who perform repetitive labor, such as an assembly line worker, may need to wait six to eight weeks before returning to work.
Myth #6: Endoscopic approach is riskier than open approach.
In the past, many patients were concerned or advised against the endoscopic approach for fear of higher risk for complications such as nerve damage. However, current research shows that there’s no statistically significant added risk of complications from the endoscopic approach.
If you believe you may have carpal tunnel syndrome—or have been diagnosed but have questions about your treatment—call our office today to schedule a consultation and lets put together a plan to get you out of pain!