My carpal tunnel syndrome arose from a peculiar source that my family practitioner and I were unaware of for years. To his credit, he was able to put together a pattern of multiple symptoms that led to the diagnosis of acromegaly.
Numbness with Tingling
Most are aware sufferers can experience some pain from the carpal tunnel syndrome, but I experience mostly numbness with tingling. My wrists felt as if they were asleep, just as an arm or a leg feels when blood circulation in them has been curtailed. There is a difference, however. Carpal tunnel syndrome is not caused by insufficient circulation, but through unrelenting pressure on a nerve.
At first, a bout of CTS was rare for me. The numbness was sporadic; I mostly noticed it when driving. I would have to reposition my hands on the wheel from time to time so they would “wake up”. Eventually, it became persistent. I would probably have lived with the condition, if another problem had not arisen — sleeping. I had a difficult time finding any posture that prevented my arms from tingling. Being an unusually light sleeper, I could no longer ignore the problem.
Seeking Medical Attention
The doctor explained what was going on and gave me wrist guards that keep the hands, wrists and arms straight. The guards worked well, which was a relief, since surgery was the only recourse. In time, I was able to stop using the guards. On occasion, the condition would return. It still does, though seldom. Here’s why. It was discovered I had a non-cancerous pituitary adenoma — a tumor. The tumor grew back, so I opted for radiation treatment at the University of Virginia — the Gamma Knife.
The Verdict — Acromegaly
How does acromegaly cause carpal tunnel syndrome? Acromegaly results when the tumor affects the part of the pituitary responsible for the control of growth hormone. If the sufferer has not reached puberty, he or she may not stop growing after normal adult height is attained.
If the sufferer is older, excess vertical growth is uncharacteristic. However, soft tissues may grow in excess. One of them can be the myelin sheaths that surround the nerves. As discussed in the video, Giants – Part 1: Pituitary Gigantism and Acromegaly, these sheaths swell up, hindering nerve impulses. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome frequently results.
Since Gamma Knife treatment, the tingling in my wrists diminished, though it has not disappeared. What would I suggest to other sufferers? Recognize that sometimes the condition could be not only a problem, but a symptom also of something else — perhaps something more serious.
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Persons with Acromegaly
- University of Virginia Health System: Gamma Knife Center