23 Nov Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Arm/Back Pain
We treat all sorts of pain in our Weatherford, Texas clinic. Over the years, we have worked with patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome that presented pain not limited only to the wrist. Patients were experiencing pain radiating up through their arms and, in some cases, even into their backs.
While arm pain and back pain is not the norm for carpal tunnel syndrome, it can still occur. Medical science isn’t exactly sure why except to say that nerves and the brain communicate in such a way as to create sensations of pain. They do not always communicate in predictable ways. That’s why a pinched nerve can create sensations of pain at a location separate from the compression site.
More About Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the direct result of a compressed nerve. The nerve in question is the median nerve. It runs from the inside of the elbow all the way down to the palm of the hand. On its way through the wrist, it passes through a narrow opening known as the carpal tunnel.
There are times when, due to inflammation or stress, swelling in the tendons can restrict the already narrow tunnel. A significant enough restriction can press on the median nerve. If compression continues, carpal tunnel syndrome may develop.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is fairly common. Its symptoms are easy to recognize, especially among pain doctors who are familiar with treating it. At early onset, one of the most common symptoms is a feeling of pins and needles in the fingers. That same feeling may be present throughout the affected hand. Interestingly enough, it generally isn’t felt in the pinky finger.
Other common carpal tunnel symptoms include:
- burning hands or fingers
- pain and numbness (especially at night)
- loss of grip in the affected hand
- sudden, shock-like pain in the affected hand and fingers
- slight swelling, or perceptions of swelling.
Most patients only feel the pain, numbness, and pins and needles in the hands and fingers. But left untreated, the pain could gradually radiate up the arm, into the shoulders, and even into the upper back. Radiating pain can make a carpal tunnel diagnosis a bit more difficult if the radiation of the pain is more sudden than gradual.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
Physical conditions like inflammatory arthritis and the fluid retention related to pregnancy can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. However, most cases are the result of repetitive stress injury, nerve damage, or anatomical anomalies.
For example, it is not unusual for people who work in the textile and fabric finishing industry to suffer from this condition. According to a 2018 CDC report, nearly 45% of all textile and fabric industry workers report carpal tunnel syndrome. Nearly 40% of all slaughterhouse workers report it as well.
We often hear of carpal tunnel syndrome among office workers who sit behind computers all day. When office work is the culprit, carpal tunnel syndrome can usually be traced to the patient’s position in front of the computer. The position of the person’s hands relative to keyboard and mouse, along with chair height and distance to monitor, all play a role.
Fortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome is very treatable. A typical case can be addressed with anti-inflammatory medication, a wrist brace, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Only in the most serious cases is more aggressive treatment required.
Make a point to visit us at our clinic if you are suffering from chronic pain that you think could be related to carpal tunnel syndrome. Our highly experienced team of pain doctors are here to help you feel better.