The Importance of Hand
Hands have singlehanded assumed one of the most important roles in human culture. They have contributed to the most beautifully composed music of our time, the most exalted paintings of the artistic eras before us, and the hand crafted technologies that aid us today.
Many individuals, however, report conditions that affect their hand movements and sensations. For example, numbness and tingling in the little finger can be attributed to ulnar tunnel syndrome. This condition arises when the ulnar nerve becomes compacted in the wrist.
When this nerve is compressed, it reduces sensation in the hand, as it is one of three nerves accountable for hand sensation. This nerve actually beings at the neck, and extends throughout the length of the body, and throughout the hand. The nerve constriction described above can happen anywhere along the length of this nerve, including the neck, wrist or hand.
What Causes Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome?
When the ulnar nerve is compressed in the wrist area, it gives rise to the characteristic symptoms of numbness and tingling. Additional symptoms of this condition include that of weakness and a poor grip. Pain may or may not accompany these symptoms. As these symptoms are exacerbated, however, they begin to interfere with basic hand functions and overall strength.
Ulnar tunnel syndrome derives from the formation of a benign tumor, referred to as a soft tissue tumor. This growth exists as a noncancerous cyst that emerges from the joint in the wrist. However, ulnar tunnel syndrome may also originate from frequent hand trauma, or excessive pressure on the area.
If you suspect that you suffer from this condition, you may feel compelled to consult a doctor for a thorough examination. The diagnostic process will entail assessing your hand for waning muscles or weakness, as well as dry skin separating the skin between the fingers.
Your doctor may exert a mild degree of pressure on your ulnar nerve in order to see if tingling occurs. For more extensive examination, your doctor may also utilize at CT scan or MRI to uncover any cysts growing in the region of your ulnar nerve. Furthermore, an X-ray may rule out a broken bone as the primary cause.
There are a variety of different treatment available for those who suffer from this condition. The treatment will hinge on the cause of your condition, however. In some cases, ulnar tunnel arises from typing in a particular wrist position. If this is the case, your hand may simply require an adjustment, or an ergonomic keyboard. Many different activities will require that you alter your hand position. In other cases, an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, or even a wrist splint, may benefit you greatly.
Surgical treatments can also assist with the issue, especially if it has increased in severity. In the most difficult cases of ulnar tunnel syndrome, and individual can barely use their hand without writhing in excruciating pain. Hence, a surgical treatment would entail the removal of a cyst growing in the wrist region.
While this is invasive, it may be required for the severest of all cases. Normally, a seasoned hand surgeon will come to the rescue, and remove scar tissue, or any other lingering growths that may be giving rise to the numbness and tingling sensations. Once the surgery is complete, the symptoms will abate somewhat, and the nerve will require several months to repair and grow. Physical rehabilitation may be necessary to regain the full function of the hand.
Ulnar Tunnel vs. Carpal Tunnel
Many people have the tendency to confuse ulnar tunnel syndrome with carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel is a relatively common occurrence that produces numbness, tingling and pain in both the forearm and the hand area, as well.
The general public often finds ulnar tunnel and carpal tunnel indistinguishable because the physical basis of these disorders appear to overlap, to a certain extent. In the case of carpal tunnel, nerve compression in a particular area produces numbness and pain.
This compressed nerve happens to be linked to various muscles, hence the uncomfortable symptoms. The pressure that gives rise to carpal tunnel may derive from large blood vessels, cysts, arthritis, and injury. Clearly, there are numerous similarities between this disease and ulnar tunnel.
It is possible to develop both ulnar carpal syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome at once, as they are both governed by separate forms of nerve compression. It is critical to notify your doctor if you notice a decrease in hand functioning and mobility, as this may interfere with basic tasks.