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Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can present as numbness and tingling in the thumb and first three fingers of the hand. It can also be associated with pain in the wrist. Often it is worse with activities such as sleeping, driving or reading a book.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome may include the following:carpal tunnel

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Rheumatoid disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Vibration (equipment and tools)
  • Cold work environment
  • Repetitive activity
  • Wrist fractures


Out of 12 things on this list, they are almost all avoidable. Individuals who change their lifestyle habits can reverse the symptoms of carpal tunnel due to obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse. Treating thyroid disease and diabetes may also improve symptoms. Symptoms associated with pregnancy often resolve shortly after delivery.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed with a simple nerve conduction study. These conduction studies check the nerves much like an electrician would check the wiring in a house. A small signal is sent down the nerve and can be recorded to tell how fast and how well the nerve conducts the signal. The signal feels like static electricity, which means while it may be annoying it is not extremely painful. Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome will have slowing of median nerve conduction across the wrist.

The appropriate treatment can be determined with your physiatrist based on your symptoms and the nerve conduction study. Treatment for mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome includes wrist splints, hand therapy, or ultrasound guided injections. Severe carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated with surgery to take pressure off of the median nerve.


Dr. Burton is the author of our upcoming Lessons From Physiatry book. He’s looking for your physical rehabilitation or physical therapy story that has made a difference in your life or the life of a friend or loved one, we’d love to include it in his book. Click here to share your story.



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Category: Injuries

Christopher Burton, M.D.

About the Author ()

Christopher Burton, M.D. is a physician, speaker, coach and trainer, practicing in Pensacola, FL. He specialized in Physiatry - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), which is the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions - particularly those of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems - that may produce temporary or permanent impairment of function. In addition to his practice, he actively lectures on health, nutrition and exercise for healthcare groups, colleges, schools and travels internationally discussing treatment and rehabilitation of athletes.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Burton you can view his personal website at:

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