Interviewer: What are all the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Dr. Sarim Mir: The first symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is tingling and numbness of the hand. We see it in the first, second and the third digit and half of the fourth digit sometimes. People begin to have these symptoms typically at nighttime. They can have them when they are driving their car—so patients would claim that after 10-15 minutes of driving their hands get numb. They would have to then shake it to get rid of the numbness. They would also complain that if they are reading the paper or if they do anything for which they have to raise their hand—they begin to have symptoms.
There Have been Patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome who’ve Experienced Pain All the Way up to their Shoulder
Women tell us that they have the symptoms of tingling and numbness in the hand when they are doing their hair. After that they may begin to experience pain. They have pain in the wrist that will go up to their arm. Now if the carpal tunnel is untreated, sometimes the pain can go up the forearm. We have even seen patients whose pain goes all the way up to their shoulder. Sometimes there’s a confusion on the diagnosis. They have so much pain up in the arm that we have to determine whether the problem is up on the shoulder or is on the hand.
Some people would have cramping of the finger. As the symptoms progress, they will begin to feel weakness on the hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome May Cause Tools to Fall out of Hands When Working
This can be really dangerous sometimes because if people are working with tools, they could and would drop these from their hands. We have had carpenters who claimed that they were hammering and would lose their grip on it. They would drop things from their hands because the feeling in the hands decreases—and they can’t tell. For example, they feel only the difference between a penny and a dime. It’s as if they are wearing gloves all the time. They also tell us that their fingers feel swollen.
The Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Can be Inexpensive if Properly Diagnosed in Time
Interviewer: Is continuous treatment for carpal tunnel going to be very expensive?
Dr. Sarim Mir: If patients come on time and we diagnose their condition on time—the treatment could simply be wearing braces; it could be doing stretching exercises of the hands also. We could sometimes send patients for a brief course of occupational therapy. They could go to a therapist for 2 or 3 days. The therapist can teach them the precautions and often we will build those rituals for the patient—so that before they begin their day or their work or during their breaks at work—they can do these stretches.
It is Necessary to Protect Your Body Against Injuries and Stretching Exercises are a Means to Prevent Injuries
What I tell people is that before Tiger Woods plays golf, or athletes of the NFL games start, they always do stretching—and they all have their own rituals of stretching before they get on and start playing. They are doing it because they want to perform at their best and also want to protect their bodies. For these athletes, it’s show time.
I then tell my patients ‘your work is as important to you as these athletes’ work is important to them. You have to protect your body from injuries and these exercises are prevention against injuries.
If People Take the Prescribed Precautions and Exercise Regularly Carpal Tunnel Can be Prevented from Getting Worse
So when people begin to do those exercises—when they take those precautions often—carpal tunnel can be prevented from getting worse.
When a patient’s carpal tunnel is moderate and will not get better with the treatments – we then send them for carpal tunnel surgery. The carpal tunnel surgery is a very brief procedure, and is done in the local anesthesia. We don’t do this surgery; however, we refer the patients to experienced surgeons.
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