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Carpal tunnel syndrome: Receive a diagnosis, get treatment

As someone who uses a computer, day in and day out, it's possible you could one day develop carpal tunnel syndrome. As a repetitive stress injury, this is something that slowly comes into play over the course of time.

If you're experiencing pain or numbness in your wrists, hands and/or fingers, your doctor will want to dig deeper to find out what's going on. Here are some of the tests doctors can use to determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Physical examination, including your ability to use the muscles in your hand
  • X-ray, as this gives your doctor a better idea of if your symptoms are caused by another condition, such as a bone fracture
  • Nerve conduction study, which is meant to see if electrical impulses slow down when traveling through the carpal tunnel

If it's determined that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, your medical team will decide between two options:

  • Nonsurgical therapy
  • Surgery

With nonsurgical therapy, you'll likely wear a wrist splint while sleeping to help alleviate the symptoms. Also, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs can help.

If nonsurgical therapy doesn't work or your injury is too advanced, surgery may be required to eliminate your symptoms. The purpose of surgery is to relieve pressure inside the carpal tunnel.

Your doctor can discuss the pros and cons of both open surgery and endoscopic surgery.

There could come a point when carpal tunnel syndrome forces you away from work, as you're no longer able to do your job effectively. If this happens, tell your employer what's going on and learn more about the workers' compensation system.

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