Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist. The bony section where this nerve and nine tendons pass from the arm into the hand is called the “carpal tunnel,” and when compressed, this puts pressure on the nerve, causing dysfunction of the nerve known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Those who suffer from the condition experience chronic symptoms including numbness, pins-and-needles, and weakened grip strength.
A variety of factors can create pressure on the nerve and contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Whether brought on from overuse, repetitive motion, or fluid buildup, some common causes include:
- Swelling of the tendons
- Dislocation of the joint
- High-energy repetitive motion
- Fluid retention, often during pregnancy
Other potential issues that can influence the development of carpal tunnel syndrome are thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Since there are so many factors that can ultimately cause the condition, it is important you see a qualified doctor to determine the best form of treatment for your carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms can vary in those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, but the most prevalent signs people tend to experience entail:
- Pain in one or both hands
- Tingling sensation
- Weak hand grip
- Dropping objects
You may feel discomfort in your thumb, index and middle fingers, palm, and wrist. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often arise while doing routine activities like reading a newspaper or driving, and many people wake up at night with pain. In severe cases, a loss of sensation and strength may be permanent.
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will go over your medical history, as well as consider how your hands are routinely used, making note of any prior injuries you may have had. A detailed physical examination will test the function of all the major nerves in both arms. An x-ray may be ordered to test for arthritis or a potential fracture, and you may also need laboratory tests. In addition, your doctor may refer you to a neurologist for electrodiagnostic studies to confirm your diagnosis and the baseline function of your nerves.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can often be relieved without the need for surgery. Treatment may involve changing the way your hands are used, using a wrist splint to keep it straight (especially at night to limit your waking in pain), and possibly receiving steroid injections to reduce swelling.
If your condition does not improve, or if it is too severe to be treated non-invasively, you may require carpal tunnel surgery. This procedure is intended to create more space for the nerve inside the carpal tunnel. To do this, your doctor will carefully divide the ligament that covers the top of the tunnel at the palm side of your hand as well as the fascia of the forearm. You may be sore for several weeks to months following this surgery. While surgical treatment will usually provide great results, it is possible that your symptoms may not be completely resolved, especially for those with severe and long-standing carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you would like more information about carpal tunnel syndrome, or to learn how you can treat your condition, please contact Long Island Plastic Surgical Group to schedule a consultation.
Carpal tunnel is the most common compression neuropathy in the upper extremity; however, compression of the other major nerve in the arm happens frequently as well. Other nerve compression syndromes such as cubital tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed and treated by the surgeons at Long Island Plastic Surgical Group. Call to schedule a consultation today.
or call us at 516-742-3404