Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a problem that affects the wrist and hand. The carpal tunnel is a narrow space inside the wrist that is surrounded by bone and ligament. This space lets certain tendons and a major nerve pass from the forearm into the hand. With CTS, the tendon sheaths may thicken and enlarge. This reduces the amount of space inside the carpal tunnel. As a result, the median nerve may be compressed.
Tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of CTS. Some people also have hand pain or even a weakened grip. At first, symptoms may wake you up at night. Later, they may also occur during your daily routines. Your symptoms may become more severe over time.
The most common symptoms for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Weakness when gripping objects with the hand(s)
- Pain and/or numbness in the hand(s)
- “Pins and needles” feeling in the fingers
- Swollen feeling in the fingers
- Burning or tingling in the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers
- Pain and/or numbness that is worse at night, interrupting sleep
Treatment may include:
- Splinting of the hand (to help prevent wrist movement and decrease the compression of the nerves inside the tunnel)
- Oral or injected (into the carpal tunnel space) anti-inflammatory medications (to reduce the swelling)
- Surgery (to relieve compression on the nerves in the carpal tunnel)
- Changing position of a computer keyboard, or other ergonomic changes
Surgery is not always a recommended course of action. I have been very excited about the feedback we receive from patients regarding the outcomes for carpal tunnel surgery. Not only are most patients achieving relief of numbness, tingling, and pain, but with our rapid mobilization program they are experiencing a quicker return to function with minimal down time. Care is coordinated with a Certified Hand Therapist, and our Hand Care Center is set up to provide easy communication.
Carpal Tunnel release is one of the most common surgical procedures. If you are experiencing any discomfort in your hands or wrists, I would encourage you to talk to your doctor or give us a call.