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Feeling Great: Carpal tunnel syndrome

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Carpal tunnel is a painful, progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist.

High Point Health System Neurologist Greg Meiden said carpal tunnel syndrome develops in women more often than men because of a smaller vein in the wrist.

“Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common entrapment neuropathy, in other words pinched nerve,” Meiden said. “It’s particularly common in women; it happens about three to one compared to men.”

Carpal tunnel syndrome essentially pinches the nerves in the wrists and or the first three fingers; thumb, index and middle finger.

Dr. Meiden said although carpal tunnel syndrome has a hereditary deposition, people who do manual work or repetitive motion with their hands are more likely to develop it.

Angie Jones has typed for more than 30 years and developed carpal tunnel in her thumbs. To help alleviate the pain she uses an orthopedic keyboard and wears thumb guards.

“It kind of keeps your hands level at rest, to where they’re not moving back and forth,” Jones said.

Dr. Meiden said thumb guards or a hand splint will assist with pain management but if symptoms persist, he suggests one should talk with their doctor about surgery.

“You don’t want it to get severe enough that it will start causing weakness of the hands, because if you’re hands become weak and you can’t grip I find that extremely debilitating,” Meiden said.