The carpal tunnel is located on the palm side of the wrist and houses a nerve to the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which this nerve is pinched or compressed, resulting in pain, numbness, and weakness in the hand and arm.
The signs of carpal tunnel syndrome often include:
• An uncomfortable numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers other than the pinky
• Pain from the wrist up to the shoulder and/or down into the palm and fingers
• A general weakness in the hand and trouble gripping and holding things
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the nerve in the carpal tunnel being pinched or compressed. Factors that can affect the nerve in that way include trauma to the wrist, inflammation due to a disease or condition such as arthritis, fluid retention during pregnancy, assembly line work, and others. Contrary to popular belief, there is little research that shows a link between repetitive motion such as typing on a computer keyboard and carpal tunnel syndrome.
A physician can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome by performing a thorough exam of the hand, wrist, and arm. A doctor may also use electrodiagnostic testing, which involves examining the nerve while electrodes are connected to the hand and wrist. Once diagnosed, it’s important to get effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome to prevent nerve and muscle damage.
Treatment often starts with resting the hand and wrist in a splint for several weeks. After that, drugs may be prescribed to help with pain and swelling. The patient may also benefit from physical therapy and/or yoga exercises to stretch and strengthen the wrist. If symptoms persist, surgery may be recommended.
Carpal tunnel release surgery is a common outpatient procedure, in which the band of tissue around the wrist is cut to release the pain-causing pressure. The patient is typically given local anesthesia. In most cases, the outcome of carpal tunnel surgery is very successful.
At Denton Regional Medical Center, we can diagnose and treat all of your orthopedic needs. Our Orthopedic & Sports Medicine department specializes in hand, upper extremity, foot and ankle surgery, joint replacement and reconstruction, trauma, and rehabilitation. To learn more, visit us online or call (940) 898-0629 for a physician referral.