Carpal Tunnel Myths

There are many myths and misunderstandings associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: what are the underlying causes of this disorder; what triggers it off; who is most susceptible; surgery is the only long term solution. This can lead to patients agreeing to more serious treatment than is necessary. Let us examine some of these myths in more detail.

Wrist pain means Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Wrong !!

Not every bit of discomfort with the wrist is necessarily a sign of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. People often experience momentary pain or a tingling sensation in their fingers and hands. It is wrong to jump to the conclusion that this is a sure sign of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It isn’t.

Of course, these sensations can be indicators of carpal tunnel syndrome but they are far from being a definite diagnosis of this condition.

Pain in the wrists could point to a number of hand conditions, including arthritis and tendinitis – both of which can be treated by your doctor, a therapist or other healthcare professional. There may also be problems with the muscles in the arm, shoulder or neck. This can produce the same symptoms as carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is straightforward. Wrong again !!

Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is not possible via a routine cursory examination.

In order to determine whether pain in the hand and wrist is a sign of a carpal tunnel symptom, it is necessary to review a patient’s complete medical history.  It then requires a complete physical examination. Some therapists will then use electrical impulse testing to determine the exact location and cause of the problem.

Typing is the main cause of this condition. Again wrong.

The time we spend at the keyboard of our desk top computer – typing and clicking a mouse – has increased dramatically over the past years. Many people now suggest that keyboard use is the main culprit for carpal tunnel syndrome.

While people who have carpal tunnel syndrome are likely to be frequent users of computers, it doesn’t mean that this is the definite cause of this disorder. Typing away for hours on end can certainly be uncomfortable for the hands but it is unlikely that this is the sole cause of a case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Development of carpal tunnel syndrome has been linked more strongly to work that requires protracted use of the hands in strenuous or unorthodox positions such as sewing, cleaning, packing and assembly-line work etc. Other factors such as injury, diabetes and even pregnancy are also linked to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

It is now recognised that there isn’t any one, single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. There are several underlying conditions (such as pregnancy) that make people susceptible to this condition. Repetition of certain tasks – particularly ones that involve vibration and/or forceful movements of the hand – can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Everyone is susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrong

Many people assume that this condition is more common amongst men than amongst women.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. One of the possible reasons is that the carpal tunnel itself may be smaller in women than in men. Even the slightest amount of swelling can trigger the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome – numbness and tingling in the fingers, numbness in the hand, a burning sensation in the hand or arm.

The dominant hand is usually affected first and produces the most severe pain. Persons with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that directly affect the body’s nerves and make them more susceptible to compression are also at high risk. 

Surgery is the Only Way. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Surgery – carpal tunnel release surgery –  is one of the most commonly performed surgical techniques in the entire world. And it is undoubtedly true that some cases of true carpal tunnel syndrome may require surgical intervention to relieve the pain.

That said, surgery is not necessarily the answer for most patients who are experiencing characteristic carpal tunnel symptoms. Nor is it automatically the best solution. There are plenty of options now available for managing and relieving the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Plus the fact that many of the cases that are diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome have nothing to do with the carpal tunnel. The problem lies elsewhere. Surgery is inappropriate in these situations.




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