Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome may occur when there is a compression of the median nerve as it passes into your hand. Located on the palm side, the median nerve provides feeling to your thumb, index, middle, and part of your ring finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in one, or both, of your hands.
Swelling of the wrist causes the compression in carpal tunnel syndrome. It can lead to numbness, weakness, and tingling on the thumb side of your hand. Pain in your carpal tunnel is due to excess pressure in your wrist and on the median nerve, causing an inflammatory response. Most commonly this wrist swelling stems from an underlying medical condition or obstructed blood flow.
Some conditions linked with carpal tunnel syndrome
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Fluid retention
- High blood pressure
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Wrist fractures or trauma
Overextending your wrist may contributes to swelling and compression of the median nerve through through repetitive movement and/or your wrist position while typing, playing the piano, or prolonged exposure to vibrations through use of power tools (examples). Women are three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men and are most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60.
Some Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Dropping objects, hand “falling asleep”
- Tingling, numbness, weakness and pain in your thumb and first three fingers
- Pain and burning that occurs up your arm
- Wrist pain at night causing sleep interference
How we treat your carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the symptoms and severity of your pain and if your are experiencing weakness. We will first attempt a conservative treatment plan to manage your carpal tunnel pain without surgery, if possible.
- Avoiding positions that overextend your wrist
- Splints to hold your hand/wrist in a neutral position
- Mild pain medications
- Steroid injections into your carpal tunnel area to reduce inflammation
If there is severe damage to your median nerve surgery may be necessary. Carpal tunnel surgery involves cutting the band of tissue in your wrist that crosses the median nerve to lessen the pressure. Factors that determine success or failure are: age of the patient, duration of symptoms, diabetes, and if there is weakness involved.