Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Overview

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that affects many patients. Various causes may compress the nerve that innervates the hand and fingers and cause unpleasant symptoms. Early carpal tunnel treatment reduces symptoms and treats carpal tunnel syndrome before it gets worse. An appointment with a Board-Certified and Fellowship-Trained Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurological Associates (CONA) hand specialist should be made at the first sign of symptoms.

Symptoms & Causes

Carpal tunnel symptoms present in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. Symptoms include:

  • Burning
  • Difficulty gripping and holding onto objects
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Radiating pain
  • Tingling
  • Weakness

A combination of causes are usually responsible for carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Medical conditions (diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid gland imbalances)
  • Prolonged wrist flexion and extension movements
  • Pregnancy
  • Repetitive hand/wrist use
  • Sleeping with the wrist flexed

Common Treatments:

Effective nonsurgical treatment occurs if an early diagnosis is made. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA hand specialist may recommend:

  • A night splint or brace
  • Activity modification
  • Immobilization in a removable wrist brace during activities
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

A corticosteroid injection may be offered for fast-acting pain relief. Surgery may be recommended to treat severe carpal tunnel syndrome that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment options. A minimally invasive or traditional procedure decompresses the pinched nerve and quickly reduces symptoms.

Diagnosis:

A CONA specialist listens carefully as patients explain their symptoms and medical history. A thorough physical examination is an important part of a carpal tunnel diagnosis. A CONA specialist:

  • Gently holds the wrist in a flexed position to see if symptoms are produced
  • Palpates the nerve, hand and fingertips
  • Tests muscle strength

A nerve conduction study may be ordered and analyzed to see nerve signal strength and frequency.

 

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