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Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a problem that affects the wrist and hand. The carpal tunnel is a narrow space inside the wrist that is surrounded by bone and ligament. This space lets certain tendons and a major nerve pass from the forearm into the hand. With CTS, the tendon sheaths may thicken and enlarge. This reduces the amount of space inside the carpal tunnel. As a result, the median nerve may be compressed.

Tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of CTS. Some people also have hand pain or even a weakened grip. At first, symptoms may wake you up at night. Later, they may also occur during your daily routines. Your symptoms may become more severe over time.

The most common symptoms for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Weakness when gripping objects with the hand(s)
  • Pain and/or numbness in the hand(s)
  • “Pins and needles” feeling in the fingers
  • Swollen feeling in the fingers
  • Burning or tingling in the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers
  • Pain and/or numbness that is worse at night, interrupting sleep

Treatment may include:

  • Splinting of the hand (to help prevent wrist movement and decrease the compression of the nerves inside the tunnel)
  • Oral or injected (into the carpal tunnel space) anti-inflammatory medications (to reduce the swelling)
  • Surgery (to relieve compression on the nerves in the carpal tunnel)
  • Changing position of a computer keyboard, or other ergonomic changes

Surgery is not always a recommended course of action. I have been very excited about the feedback we receive from patients regarding the outcomes for carpal tunnel surgery. Not only are most patients achieving relief of numbness, tingling, and pain, but with our rapid mobilization program they are experiencing a quicker return to function with minimal down time. Care is coordinated with a Certified Hand Therapist, and our Hand Care Center is set up to provide easy communication.

Carpal Tunnel release is one of the most common surgical procedures. If you are experiencing any discomfort in your hands or wrists, I would encourage you to talk to your doctor or give us a call.

www.FortHealthCare.com/HandCare

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If you’re over 50, osteoarthritis (a.k.a. degenerative arthritis) may be a topic of conversation among you and your friends. Most of the time, osteoarthritis affects the hand, making day-to-day tasks like opening jars, getting dressed and gripping things with your hands, painful.

Thankfully, there are some solutions for hand arthritis.

Relief can come in the form of:

  • Therapy,
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication,
  • Bracing, and
  • Cortisone injections.

For pain not relieved by these interventions, surgery is an option. Painful joints can be fused. This eliminates motion of the fused joint, but also eliminates the constant aching pain.

Alternatively, some joints can be resurfaced; in fact, I can provide  surgery to resurface a painful joint at the base of the thumb on a same-day surgery basis using your own natural joint substitute. Your thumb and wrist are in a cast for four weeks, and gradually regain mobility through therapy.

This type of surgery has a high success rate for decreasing pain and preserving thumb motion. Over time, you actually gain strength in the hands. Tasks that were difficult before become easier and more symptom-free, but treatments like this should be discussed with your doctor, or an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand and wrist surgery. To make an appointment, or learn more, visit FortHealthCare.com/Ortho.

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Person rubbing an achy footBunion deformity of the foot can easily be self-diagnosed, if the great toe deviates laterally toward the small toe, greater than about 15 degrees. Small deformities present only a mild cosmetic alteration to the foot. To avoid irritation, proper shoe size and style selection deals with the deformity. With major deformity, unfortunately, no shoe seems to fit well. The foot is often achy and fatigued by the end of the day. Additionally, the medial sided bump can be outright painful. The skin can erode from pressure.

A normal, well-aligned great toe is responsible for 50 percent of the foot’s total weight bearing. When a bunion deformity exists, the other four toes take on an increased share of weight bearing. This causes increased pain under the ball of the foot. A bunion deformity can be corrected surgically by realigning the bones in the foot. The goal is a more natural distribution of weight bearing across the foot and improved shoe fitting.

The surgery can be performed on a day surgery basis (when a patient is discharged the same day – no need to stay in the hospital). Immediate partial weight bearing is typically allowed. Recovery does require initial strict elevation, and a series of regular office visits for dressing changes. For the properly selected patient, the outcome is usually very satisfactory. Some increased stiffness in the great toe can be noted, but is offset by improved comfort.

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