Hypress, I'm a sufferer of similar problems. There are two issues in my right hand as there is pain both in the hand and separately in the thumb making it necessary to distinguish between the two so treatment and relief are focused for each problem.
First, check this site (one I googled) to see if the description fits the pattern of your hand pain: http://www.sorehand.com/carpal-tunnel-syndrome.htm
There's another site, http://www.hsrnj.com/MedicalProblems/CarpalTunnel.asp
that also describes the hand problems nicely. If you find that the descriptions match your circumstances, then it's likely to stem from what is called "Repetiive Motion Injury" which is caused by smaller but repeated motions such as typing, gripping smaller items like wire or turning items like small bolts, etc. over prolonged periods (months). The muscles around the nerves going to your hand get too tight and pinch into the nerve space. There are a lot of varying words to describe what part gets inflamed, our Co doc labeled mine as Tenosynovitis (inflamation of the nerve sheath) which meant that they would help rehab it though.
(I know nothing of the product that follows on their pages but rather refer you there for a decent description and drawing).
The doc can do or arrange nerve conduction tests to see exactly which nerves may be impinged (crimped but not yet damaged) or if there's actual damage to the nerve. Don't go to surgery without this important step!
Also, the pain can actually get worse at night (and I know there's an explanation but I can't remember it at the moment) but I've experienced it and it does affect one's ability to sleep!!
If you want to see braces and accessories that can really, really help, I've used a couple different items (usually at night unless I'm in extreme pain and then I wear it/them during the day for just a couple days) similar to some shown on http://store.ergocube.com/bracessplints.html
. It's important, from what I understand, to get your hands into a 'neutral' position, not bent up nor down, for longer periods of time and particularly when you're able to relax and allow them to rest in that neutral position which makes night time wear ideal. Prolonged use of immobilizing gear isn't recommended during actual use of the hands as it weakens the muscles further, making them dependent on the splints.
If you want to see illustrations of the surgical release, look at http://catalog.nucleusinc.com/generateexhibit.php?ID=8265&ExhibitKeywordsRaw=&TL=327 37&A=2
. I can't stress enough that a surgical solution would be a last, last resort option. I've held off for over a decade and regained use and relief by doing physical therapy, retraining myself into safer, healthier habits, finding alternative techniques to do what I need such as using tools made for people with hand/thumb pain. The reason I've tried to find other options besides surgery is that surgery doesn't always work (ask around, ask more than one doc, ask the physical therapists, etc before you ask the surgeon and then ask the surgeon how many s/he's performed and the number of people who end up pain-free but with good functionality). Once you go to surgery, your options are limited if the surgery doesn't restore your use and eliminate the pain. Another 'quick fix' solution that's often offered is a cortisone shot that may reduce pain in the short-term. The problem is that with prolonged use, cortisone may actually weaken the tissue, especially if it reduces the pain sufficiently that you go back to the injury-producing activities sooner or with more strength and re-injure the area more.
There are number of problems that can occur in your thumb along with your hand injuries. See http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/0200/0284.asp?index=4223&src=ne ws
for 3 possibilities. Mine is most like the third, De Quervain's disease - inflammation of the tendon's to the thumb. This is the one that continues to bother me the most even after I gotten relief from the hand pain and the pain for me includes the attachment point on the elbow as well. There is a good description and recommendations at http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/9339/10841.html
for tendonitis, including thumb involvement.
I also wear a different splint for this that isolates my thumb and which helps a great deal. When I say "I wear them", I mean I may wear the splint or brace a couple nights or days to rest the area and then I may go a couple or several months without needing them.
And, I use tools that help change or reduce the actions that cause the pain - like a 'jar key' http://www.westons.com/acatalog/info_JAR165S.html
to unseal the vacuum on jars before twisting the lid (easily!). Also, 'fat' and cushioned pens when I write (which I avoid doing most of the time). I found garden saws that have handles made for people with weak wrists.
Best bet is to have your personal doc help you navigate the various options and for you to communicate whether you're inclined to seek a surgical solution or go through other options (phys. therapy, anti-inflammatory meds, etc.) before going that route and then to let them know if it's helping.
I've used chiropracters before and they helped a little but not as much as I had hoped. When I was in an auto wreck 3 years ago I was referred to a physiatrist - an M.D. of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Wow, what a difference she made!! She was great and referred me not only to standard Western medicine but also to the Pilates exercise for therapy & to a 'Rolfer' ( www.rolf.org
) who did deep massage targeting the facial net (the sheat around the muscles) which is supposed to help you move correctly (think tension wires which allow controlled flexion but add stability to a whole system). The rolfer helped recover me from an old back injury (torsion muscle spasm and resulting skeletal twist) dating back to the early 1980s. People kept asking me if I had lost weight or had done something drastic but it was a matter of feeling good & being able to stand up straight & be strong similar to the boy shown at the second site mentioned earlier in this paragraph. It wasn't always pleasant in the area of the oldest injury where I had serious nerve issues but if you hear people say that it's painful or so severe & deep that you can only go to one session a month, that's not usually true.
[This message has been edited by BuggabooBren (edited 07-24-2005).]