Oh! My Aching Hands
Reported July, 2007
ROCHESTER, Minn. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- About five percent of people suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. That's a pinched nerve near the palm of your hand that cuts off circulation causing pain, tingling and numbness. No one really knows what causes carpal tunnel syndrome, but one doctor at the Mayo Clinic says he's found some clues.
Simple tasks like unscrewing a cap or stirring brownie batter used to be a real pain for Elisa Underhill. "I could have never [mixed brownie batter like] this before with [a] small spoon and gripping it and stirring. That would have been really difficult and painful," Underhill says. Underhill suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome … in both hands!
Statistics show women are twice as likely to get carpel tunnel as men. And it's not necessarily those who work on a keyboard. Doctors say the injury is often seen in factory workers, often as result of picking up something awkward.
Orthopedic surgeon Peter Amadio compares the lining of a healthy tendon to baklava -- multiple layers with air between them. Normally, tendons slide easily, but in CTS, the layers are all stuck together and can't slide.
"One tendon moving against another might shear or tear this lining and break it and when it heals with scar tissue all the layers glue together." He hopes to learn why some people develop CTS and other people heal normally from this kind of injury. "Then it would give us the possibility to intervene with something other than surgery and much earlier in the process."
This may not help patients like Underhill, but could be good news for the next generation.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Department of Orthopedic Surgery
locations in Jacksonville, FL; Rochester, MN and Phoenix AZ
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