4 Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

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PHOENIX -- If you're one of the many who perform repetitive motions, typing on a computer keyboard, for example, you're at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Dr. Art Mollen sat down with Yetta Gibson to explain what carpal tunnel syndrome is and what can be done to treat it.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on the nerve in the wrist that delivers feeling and movement to the thumb side of your hand.

Mollen said the four main symptoms include numbness in your thumb or the next two or three fingers, weakness in your fingers, wrists or hands, pain in your fingers or hands and tingling in at least two of your first four fingers.

"If [symptoms] start to occur in the pinky, that's probably not carpal tunnel syndrome because it's affected by a different nerve," Mollen explained. "Carpal tunnel syndrome starts in the wrist and it's caused by the median nerve."

Although typing is the most common culprit, any repetitive motion can cause you to develop a problem. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, other causes can include sewing, driving, assembly-line work, painting, writing, use of hand tools or tools that vibrate, some sports like racquetball or handball and even playing musical instruments.

While the pain is usually in the fingers, it can go all the way up to the elbow.

The condition is more common in women and tends to set in between 30 and 60 years old.

There are a variety of treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome, including rest, ice, ibuprofen, stopping the repetitive activity and using a wrist splint. If none of these are effective, a cortisone injection can help with the inflammation. If the problems continue after two or three months, surgery could be necessary.

"When it starts to affect your daily routine, that's when you need surgery," Mollen said.

Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St. in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-656-0016 or log onto www.drartmollen.com.