Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition of the wrist that causes numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers. It is commonly known that this can be caused by repetitive motion of the hand and wrist, such as typing. However, carpal tunnel syndrome can also be caused by trauma, such as a motor vehicle collision.
In a high impact car crash, the wrist is very vulnerable. The force of a rear-end collision or side impact can hyperextend the wrist, or cause it to strike the steering wheel or dashboard of the car. This can damage the delicate tendons, nerves, and muscles in the wrist and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is restricted by a swollen carpal tunnel.
The median nerve is the nerve in the wrist that controls feeling and movement in the hand. Damage to the median nerve can cause numbness and tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers. The median nerve enters the hand through a narrow area called the carpal tunnel. If the carpal tunnel swells, it puts pressure on the median nerve, which causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers.
Severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can cause excruciating pain in the hand, wrist, or arm, as well as an inability to grip and a decrease in fine motor coordination. This prohibits many of the activities of daily living for a victim of traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome. Everyday activities such as dressing, personal grooming, cooking, driving, and writing or using a computer can be extremely painful or even impossible.
To determine if a car accident victim has sustained traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome, a doctor can perform several tests. The Phalen’s maneuver involves flexing the wrist back as far as possible, and seeing if numbness is felt in the hand and fingers within 60 seconds. A technique known as Tinel’s sign involves tapping the skin over the carpal tunnel in the wrist, and seeing if it causes tingling or a feeling of pins and needles in the fingers and hand. Nerve conduction studies can also determine whether or not a patient is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are several types of treatment for those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes, wearing a splint at night can relieve some of the symptoms of pain and numbness by holding the wrist straight and decreasing pressure on the median nerve.
More severe cases of traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome cannot be controlled simply by wearing a wrist brace. As a further step in treatment, a doctor will perform injections into the wrist to reduce the swelling of the nerve. If this doesn’t work, however, surgical intervention may be necessary. If an injury victim is experiencing constant and debilitating pain, numbness and tingling, and muscle weakness, surgery can often relive these symptoms. In such a procedure, the transverse carpal ligament, which runs across the hand and is the root of the carpal tunnel, is cut it two to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
If you have been in a serious car accident and are experiencing pain, numbness and tingling in your wrist, fingers and hand, you may have sustained traumatic carpal tunnel injury. It is important to see a doctor right away if you are experiencing these symptoms.
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