Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome, and how is it diagnosed?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressively painful condition in the arms and hands caused by a pinched nerve. Swelling, inflammation, and pressure squeeze the median nerve that runs from your forearm to your wrist. Patients usually experience tingling or numbness in their hands, pain that radiates from the wrist up the arm to the shoulder or down to the palm, and weakness in the hands. As more people spend time at their desks and computers, the incidence of carpal tunnel is increasing, and people are developing the condition at younger ages.
To diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, our orthopedists will review your symptoms and examine the muscles in your hands and fingers. They may recommend an X-ray to rule out any other causes for this discomfort, such as a fracture or arthritis. Electromyograms and nerve conduction studies can also provide information about any muscle or nerve damage. Men and people with hypothyroidism are more likely to experience carpal tunnel syndrome.
How is it treated?
In mild cases, you can relieve carpal tunnel discomfort with rest and cold packs that will reduce swelling. If symptoms continue, wearing a splint at night or taking anti-inflammatory medications could provide relief. Our orthopedists may also recommend a corticosteroid injection to decrease inflammation and swelling.
In the most severe, persistent cases, our surgeons could recommend one of two surgical options – endoscopic or open. Minimally-invasive endoscopic surgery uses an endoscope – a telescope-like device with a tiny camera at the end – so the surgeon can see inside your wrist to make the necessary small incisions. Open surgery requires a large incision across the palm of your hand and through the ligament.