Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 39

TRUE OR FALSE:

If you're experiencing pain in
your wrist or hand, it's probably carpal tunnel syndrome.

FALSE. "That's one of the biggest
misconceptions about carpal tunnel
syndrome," Baxamusa says. Rather than
pain, "the hallmarks are numbness and
tingling-especially at night."
In fact, painful conditions that occur
in the hand, such as trigger thumb and
arthritis, are commonly confused with
CTS. So is de Quervain's tenosynovitis,
a type of tendinitis of the wrist that's
common in pregnant women and mothers of newborns, Baxamusa says.
An electromyogram (EMG) test with
a nerve conduction study can confirm
CTS. The EMG measures the electrical
activity in the muscles, and the nerve
study helps providers spot any damage
and assess its severity.

TRUE OR FALSE:

Working on a keyboard all
day causes carpal tunnel
syndrome.

FALSE. While CTS is commonly
linked with computer work, a combination of factors can cause it, including
heredity or an underlying medical condition like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis
or thyroid imbalance. Awkward or
improper posture and activities on the
job can also play a role (hence the keyboard connection).
"But it's not that working on a computer all day causes it," Baxamusa says.
"Poor ergonomics is the cause."
According to the National Institutes of
Health, assembly-line workers are actually at greater risk for CTS: They're three
times more likely to develop it than
someone who performs data entry.

SLOW THE
PROGRESSION
OF CTS
Because carpal tunnel syndrome
(CTS) is often caused by multiple
factors, it can be challenging, if not
impossible, to completely prevent.
"But that doesn't mean you can't
utilize everyday tricks to minimize
discomfort and slow the progression
of this condition," says Adam Cochran,
MD, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated
with Gwinnett Medical Center. "Also,
by working with a specialist during the
early stages of CTS, you can better
prepare for the long term." A few
things you can do now include:
3 Splinting your wrists at night to
keep them in a neutral position.
3 Getting steroid injections for
temporary relief during a flare-up.
3 Keeping health problems known
to contribute to CTS in check.
3 Learning proper ergonomics
through occupational therapy.
3 Performing stretching exercises
as prescribed by a doctor or physical
therapist, which can make it easier
for the median nerve to move inside
the carpal tunnel.

APPOINTMENTS

Help for CTS
If you have questions
about diagnostics or are
interested in exploring
treatments, GMC can help.
To schedule an orthopedic
appointment, visit
gwinnettmedicalcenter.
org/jointpain.

TRUE OR FALSE:

Recovery from CTS surgery can
take a while.

TRUE. Surgery typically involves
cutting a ligament that forms the "roof"
of the carpal tunnel to reduce pressure
on the median nerve. Known as carpal
tunnel release, it can have a high success rate-up to 90 percent-but
recovery takes time. The tingling usually
goes away within weeks after surgery.
In severe cases, where the nerve has
been under pressure for a long time, it
can take a while for the nerve to regenerate, and thus the numbness can take
much longer to go away. The rate of
nerve regeneration generally occurs at
a millimeter a day or an inch per month,
Baxamusa says.
"So, if you consider that the carpal
tunnel is compressed at the wrist and
you measure from there to the tip of
the middle finger, it's about 6 inches,
which means it's roughly six months for
that nerve to regenerate."

TRUE OR FALSE:

CTS can be reversible.

TRUE. With early diagnosis and
proper treatment, the damage can be
reversible-to a point. With severe CTS,
where the muscle around the base of the
thumb is starting to become disconnected from the nerve, it may be irreversible. But surgery can still make sense
to halt the progression, Baxamusa says.
"Beyond numbness and tingling,
there's also a muscular component. The
motor branch of the median nerve [the
CT nerve] controls the thumb, which
gives us opposable thumbs," he says.
"If left untreated, that could be lost in
severe cases, so it's important to seek a
diagnosis and treatment early." ■

FALL 2019

39


https://www.gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/campaigns/total-joint-request-an-appointment https://www.gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/campaigns/total-joint-request-an-appointment

Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC

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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 3
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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Cover3
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