Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. The carpal tunnel protects the median nerve and tendons that bend your fingers and thumb. When this passageway becomes too narrow, the nerve is squeezed or compressed at the wrist. This can cause tingling, numbness, weakness and sometimes pain in your hand, wrist and arm.
Many cases are caused by a combination of risk factors that facilitate carpal tunnel syndrome. While it’s more common in women and older people, anyone can develop this condition. Some risk factors include:
- Heredity that causes an anatomic difference in your wrist
- Repetitive hand and wrist motions
- Underlying health issues like diabetes, thyroid gland imbalance or rheumatoid arthritis
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Activities that put your hand and wrist in awkward or extreme positions
In most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms begin gradually and may even come and go in the beginning. As your condition worsens, symptoms may occur more frequently, become more noticeable or persist for longer lengths of time. Common symptoms include:
- Tingling, numbness and possibly pain primarily in your thumb and all your fingers except the little finger, especially after holding something for prolonged periods of time
- Tingling, numbness and possibly pain in your fingers or hand upon waking from sleep
- Shock-like sensations that occasionally occur in your thumb and fingers
- Pain or tingling traveling up your forearm toward your shoulder
- Weakness or numbness that causes you to drop things
- Weakness or clumsiness that impacts fine motor skills
Carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time without some form of treatment, so it’s important to pursue a diagnosis and treatment as early as possible. If pressure on your median nerve continues, it can lead to nerve damage and more severe symptoms. To prevent permanent damage, we may recommend surgery to take pressure of the nerve.
When caught in the early stages, it may be possible to slow or stop the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome. Treated early, you may find relief of symptoms and loss of functionality with nonsurgical treatments. We may recommend conservative solutions, especially if your symptoms are mild, including:
- Wearing a wrist brace or splint to keep your wrist straight and reduce nerve pressure
- Avoiding or changing repetitive daily activities that flex or extend your wrist
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that relieve pain and inflammation
- Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel to temporarily relieve pain
- Nerve gliding exercises that help the median nerve move more freely
When nonsurgical treatments don’t relieve your symptoms or the severity of your symptoms worsens, we may recommend surgery to prevent irreversible damage. Having surgery is a major decision, so we’ll discuss all your options with you in-depth before reaching a decision together. Our surgical procedure is called carpal tunnel release and is typically done on an outpatient basis.
Carpal tunnel release involves cutting the ligament at the roof of the tunnel, which increases tunnel size and relieves pressure on the nerve. A traditional open carpal tunnel release requires a small incision in the palm of your hand so we can divide the transverse carpal ligament at the roof of the tunnel. Alternately, an endoscopic open carpal tunnel release requires one or two smaller incisions for a miniature camera to see inside and a special knife inserted through a tube to divide the ligament. Both types of surgery offer similar outcomes and typically relieve your symptoms, but recovery may be gradual and take up to a year.
If you’re suffering from pain in your hand or wrist, let our orthopedic specialists evaluate your condition and start treatment to limit your disability. We suggest treatment and recovery options that are as comfortable as possible, which may include post-surgery rehabilitation in our state-of-the-art therapy facility. Contact us in Wayne at 973-595-7779, Englewood at 973-595-7779 or Paramus at 973-595-7779 to schedule your evaluation today.
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