DAVENPORT, Iowa – Marisol Koss was randomly dropping things and experiencing a numbness in certain fingers for years. She ended up being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a common condition most people may not know they have.
“I started dropping things, I couldn’t write, every time I would write I would have to shake my hand every two seconds,” Koss explains. “And it was just certain fingers, which is what carpal tunnel is.”
The pain and numbness she’d had since 2003 brought Koss to Dr. Tobias Mann, an orthopedic surgeon at ORA. He diagnosed her with carpal tunnel syndrome.
“Carpal tunnel syndrome is a problem with one of the nerves at the wrist,” explains Mann. “It tends to be present as a numbness in the thumb, index, and middle fingers – sometimes in part of the ring finger as well.”
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops over time as people do the same repetitive movement with their hands like typing, writing, or playing the piano.
The syndrome stems from a compression in the median or carpal tunnel nerve in the wrist. For some patients, a remedy is a brace for the wrist, but Koss’ pain was more extreme than others.
“That’s when Dr. Mann suggested let’s do the surgery because it is pretty advanced,” Koss remembers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects 5-6% of the adult population.
“It’s most common in people middle-aged or older, but it’s common in younger people as well,” Dr. Mann points out. “Even people in their twenties can have carpal tunnel.”
Years after the surgery, Koss still experiences stiffness in her hands from time to time, but the pain is nothing like before.
“It’s like riding a bike, kind of, but it still is getting back to that – that’s where the frustration comes in,” Koss says.
To temporarily relieve pain and stiffness, doctors will also try injections before turning to surgery for carpal tunnel.