It’s a mistake that can lead to permanent damage to your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the result of pressure on the median nerve as it travels through the wrist. Symptoms often
appear gradually—tingling, pain or numbness—and get worse with time.
“A frequent mistake is waiting too long to seek treatment,” explains Allen Tham, MD, a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic hand surgeon at St. Jude. “Left untreated, the nerve damage and muscle atrophy created by CTS can become irreversible.”
Frequently caused by chronic use or injury, occupations and hobbies with repetitive motions increase your risk—from assembly line workers and cashiers, to excessive smart phone users who are increasingly clicking, swiping, scrolling and tapping their way to hand and wrist pain.
Early treatment means options
“When treated early, patients can often slow or stop CTS with simple measures like wearing a brace at night, as sleeping with your wrists flexed is a common cause of stress on the nerve,” explains Mary Long, DPT, OCS, CHT, a certified hand therapist at St. Jude Centers for Rehabilitation, who specializes in nerve entrapment syndromes and other hand, wrist and elbow conditions. “An experienced hand therapist can also help offload pressure from the nerve through manual therapy, education and improved mechanics.”
But for those whose symptoms have become constant or progressed to muscle weakness—causing you to drop things or have trouble writing—surgery is often needed. Dr. Tham routinely
treats carpal tunnel with a “mini-open” release procedure performed at the St. Jude Outpatient Surgery Center. The 10-minute, minimally-invasive procedure relieves the pressure by dividing the carpal ligament to give the median nerve more room. Mild sedation and a numbing block, but no general anesthesia, allows patients to return home within an hour or two.
“We ask manual laborers to take a month off work, but for patients who work at a desk, many go back to work the same day, right after surgery,” explains Dr. Tham. “It’s a convenient, successful and typically permanent solution.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Tham, please call (714) 626-8630.
The Benefits of Hand Therapy
We offer an important advantage in helping you recover more quickly and completely: a care team exclusively dedicated to the unique needs of patients with hand, wrist and elbow injuries, diseases or surgeries. Experienced in today’s best practices and evidence-based care, we offer expert evaluation and individualized treatment for a wide range of acute, post-surgical and chronic conditions.
Our hand therapists are certified occupational and physical therapists with extensive training and clinical expertise in hand therapy—and most are board-certified in their specialty, an advanced designation requiring years of additional training, education and proficiency. The result is an uncommon and highly successful level of care.
Our hand therapists can help with:
• Carpal tunnel and other repetitive use disorders
• Dupuytren’s Disease
• Muscle sprains and strains
• Nerve injuries
• Post-surgical recovery
• Tendon injuries
• Work-related overuse conditions
For further information or to make an appointment, please contact St. Jude Hand Therapy at (714) 578-8720.
About the AuthorMore Content by Providence News Team