The Doctor Is In: Carpal Tunnel FAQ's

Answers provided by John Raggio, M.D., Neurosurgeon
Answers provided by John Raggio, M.D., Neurosurgeon

Answers provided by John Raggio, M.D., Neurosurgeon

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome? 
Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually caused by repeated hand movements, says local Neurosurgeon, John Raggio, M.D. A wrist injury, pregnancy, or a disease like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disease can also cause it. Hobbies such as gardening, needlework, golfing and canoeing may also be to blame.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome? 
Symptoms will generally occur in the hand that you use most. They may include:

  • Numbness or tingling in your hand and fingers.
  • Burning pain in your wrist, palm or forearm that worsens at night.
  • Increasing pain with use of hand and wrist.
  • Trouble with your grip.
  • Weakness and aching in your thumb that can reach as high as the neck.
  • For women, more pain in the hand before menstruation, in the last few months of pregnancy or the first few months after delivery due to fluid retention.

If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.

Who does carpal tunnel syndrome affect? 
People of all ages and both genders are at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. It is found most often in workers whose tasks require repetition of the same motion in the fingers and hands for long periods of time. People who spend hours typing, carpenters, grocery checkers, assembly-line workers, meat packers, violinists and mechanics are common candidates.

How do you prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Cut down on alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Get treatment for any disease you have that may contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • If you must perform repetitious tasks with your hands, try not to bend, extend or twist them for long periods.
  • Don't work with your arms too close to or too far away from your body.
  • Don't rest your wrists on hard surfaces for long periods.
  • Switch hands during a task.
  • Use tools that fit your hands.
  • Take regular breaks from repetitious movements.
  • Take breaks from using tools that vibrate.
  • Don't stay in the same position all day.
  • If you type a lot, adjust your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard and your wrist does not need to flex in order to type.