Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve that runs through your wrist into your hand via a small canal called the carpal tunnel becomes compressed. When the compression occurs, you may experience numbness and weakness in your thumb, index, and middle fingers, especially when you are grasping something. If your orthopedist suspects that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, there are several methods he or she can use to make a diagnosis. Here are some of the techniques your orthopedic specialist may attempt.
Sometimes, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome become obvious during a physical exam. Your orthopedist may put pressure on the nerve in your wrist to see if it causes symptoms and may test the strength of your hand. During an exam, your orthopedist will also ask questions about your medical history and activities to determine if you have risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or a job that requires repetitive motion of your wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also be a sports injury, so your doctor will ask about your sports activities.
Your orthopedist may order an X-ray to rule out other causes of your symptoms. On an X-ray, your doctor can determine if you have a wrist injury or arthritis that is putting pressure on the nerve and causing symptoms similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. Excluding these conditions can help your doctor determine that carpal tunnel syndrome is to blame for your symptoms.
During an electromyogram, your doctor will measure the electrical discharges produced by your muscles. A thin needle is inserted in the muscle to track the electrical activity both when you move the muscle and when you are at rest. A nerve conduction study, during which an electrical impulse is sent to the nerve to see if the energy moves slowly through the carpal tunnel, may be performed as part of the electromyogram. If the impulse is slowed, compression could be to blame.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is painful and can interfere with your everyday activities, so make an appointment for diagnosis and treatment at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine when you experience symptoms. Call (718) 897-2228 to make an appointment with our orthopedic specialist in Queens.