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Q: How do I know if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

Posted November 20, 2013 in Advice Column, Downtown

gaffeyA: Carpal tunnel syndrome needs to be diagnosed by a health care professional. The history the provider gets from you and the physical exam are very important in the diagnosis. A nerve conduction velocity/EMG is a test that can help with the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome.

It is helpful if you know the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome so you know when to see your provider. Carpal tunnel syndrome many times presents with numbness, tingling, and/or pain in one or both hands. The symptoms many times start as night symptoms, even waking people from sleep. The hands may feel heavy. Some activities during the day that can increase the symptoms include driving, reading or talking on the phone. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause weakness in the hands. The numbness along with the weakness can also cause patients to begin dropping things.

The main treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome include splinting, corticosteroid injections and surgical treatment. Not everybody who has carpal tunnel syndrome needs an operative intervention. The surgeon should be able to guide the patient to the right decision for him or her.

Information provided by hand, wrist and microvascular surgeon Dr. John Gaffey, Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons (DMOS), 515-299-6360.

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