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ask a Professional Sarah Pettyjohn, PT, DPT Q: My brother thinks he might have carpal tunnel. What is that and what should he do about it? A: Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a small passageway formed by the wrist bones and ligaments. The tunnel protects the finger flexor tendons and the median nerves that pass through it. Common risk factors include; wrist fractures or dislocations which can decrease the size of the tunnel, females are more likely to get carpal tunnel, possibly from a smaller size of the tunnel, water retention, common in menopause and pregnancy, may increase the pressure within the carpal tunnel, irritating the nerve, working with vibrating tools, on an assembly line, or with a computer for extended periods of time requires prolonged and repetitive flexion of the wrist, which may increase the pressure in the carpal tunnel, irritating the nerve. Common symptoms include; numbness and tingling on the palm of the hand, symptoms worsen at night, driving, typing, and holding items exacerbate symptoms, shaking out the hand relieves symptoms, hand weakness or clumsiness (ie, difficulty with grip, dropping keys). To avoid carpal tunnel syndrome; take frequent breaks when performing activities that require prolonged wrist flexion, such as typing, avoid sleeping on your hands and/or wear a night splint to keep your wrists in a neutral position while you sleep. Carpal tunnel does sometimes require surgery to decompress the nerve. Conservative pre- or post-surgical treatment by a physical or occupational therapist is recommended for best recovery and long-term function of the hand and wrist. Sundog Rehabilitation, llC Serving Rapid Valley and Custer locations! 605-787-2719 www.sundogrehab.com - Most Insurance Accepted

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