Healthwatch

Found among men and women the answer to the question is carpal tunnel syndrome. Common among people 30 and older who work a lot with their hands, doctors say carpal tunnel syndrome can also be hereditary or even develop from diseases such as diabetes.

"The symptoms are usually going to be pain or numbness or tingling in the wrist, hands and fingers," says neurologist Dr. David Doorenbos. "It can also go up the arm. It can go as far as the shoulder and sometimes you can even have pain in the neck from it. However, this is often a red flag because other things could be involved with that carpal tunnel problem."

The carpal tunnel itself is found inside the bones in the wrists. Inside the tunnel you will find tendons and a nerve. This nerve extends to at least three fingers: the thumb which some may not call an actual finger, the index finger and the middle finger. Years of repetitive use of this area can lead to swelling and inflammation, something, which doctors say, can often only be treated through surgery.

There are three stages to carpal tunnel syndrome:

The MILD stage: This can be treated by making modifications in your daily activity.

The MODERATE stage: Surgery often eliminates the pain and restores some functioning.

The SEVERE stage: Requires surgery, which preserves some functioning.

"We try to get them before it's severe," says Dr. Doorenbos. "We try to get them at the moderate stage because severe carpal tunnel patients are the ones that say, 'I had the surgery and I don't feel one bit better! I wouldn't recommend anybody go through that!' However, the reason you operate on severe carpal tunnel syndrome is to preserve the hand function that you have, even though you can't get the patient more comfortable."

So, the bottom line.

"The earlier you catch it," says Dr. Doorenbos "the better!"

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