Pain in the hand or numbness in the fingers can often be caused by either an irritated nerve in the neck or carpel tunnel syndrome. Carpel tunnel syndrome is a condition often linked to people who are in occupations involving intricate work with their hands. The condition involves compression of your median nerve in your wrist. The median nerve begins in the lower part of your neck and travels down your arm to your thumb, index finger, middle finger and half your ring finger. The “carpel tunnel” is an area of your wrist where the median nerve and a group of tendons pass through. Through over use these tendons become inflamed and compress the median nerve. One of the most common early symptoms is hand pain or finger numbness, often at night.
A pinched neck nerve can give similar symptoms, but there is a simple test for carpel tunnel syndrome. Put the backs of your hands together with your arms parallel to the floor with your fingers pointing down in a sort of “reverse praying’ position. If within a minute you begin to feel any symptoms, then you probably do have carpel tunnel syndrome. A more sophisticated diagnostic procedure is the nerve conduction velocity test where through high tech electronics a machine measures how fast nerve impulses are conducted through the median nerve.
There are a number of proven treatments for carpel tunnel syndrome. Wearing a wrist brace to bed may be helpful. Vitamin B6 may be helpful in large enough doses. As a chiropractor, I’ve used ultra-sound, electrotherapy, exercises or mobilization of the seven bones of the wrist, quite often with good success. Your family physician can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs.
If all these treatments aren’t successful, then a surgical procedure may be necessary. Traditionally this involved slicing the transverse ligament of the wrist to decompress the carpel tunnel and take pressure off the median nerve. Unfortunately, this surgery was not always successful. A newer high tech procedure now uses a much smaller incision and a tiny state of the art fibre optic camera to see inside the carpel tunnel. It is claimed this newer procedure is far more successful than the older surgical procedures.