Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is the result of the median nerve being compressed due to a variety of circumstances. The Carpal Tunnel itself actually refers to a group of tendons that coincide with the median nerve. The median nerve is essential to normal physical function since it controls the thumb and every finger except your smallest one. The compression of the Carpal Tunnel results in weakness, tingling, numbness, or pain through the wrist and hand.
While you should consult with a doctor regarding any arm, wrist, or hand pain or discomfort you might have, there are a few signs that should tip you off that you might have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This includes the scenario in which your symptoms only exist in the fingers besides your smallest, as that finger is connected to a different nerve than what causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Why Do I Have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?
You might be curious as to why you have developed Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. In fact, there are many circumstances as to why you might have developed it. Here are some of the reasons that your carpel tunnel might be compressed and causing your issues:
- Congenital Genetic Pre-disposition: Sometimes people are simply born with a smaller carpel tunnel, and that could be the root of your Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
- Trauma to the Hand or Wrist: Sprains, fractures, and other injuries can cause this syndrome as a side effect.
- Illnesses and Other Medical Conditions: Carpel Tunnel Syndrome can be a result of hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes (among other conditions).
- Pregnancy: Extra fluid retention can incidentally cause an occurrence of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- Repetitive Hand, Wrist, or Lower Arm Movements
How Do I Treat Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?
Your doctor will most likely perform a few electrodiagnostic tests (such as a nerve conduction study) to determine whether or not you have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Depending on the severity and causes of your condition, there are a few different treatment options available for you.
In some cases, the doctor will simply ask you to ice the affected area, discontinue the repetitive motions causing the motion, or rest the affected area more frequently. They might also ask you to wear a wrist splint or engage in physical therapy. Additionally, they might prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral corticosteroids, or corticosteroid injections to combat the inflammation and pain you experience.
There are two common surgical options for more severe cases:
- Open Release Surgery: This is the most well-known and common surgical treatment for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. In this procedure, the surgeon will cut the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. Usually this is a quick, outpatient surgery.
- Endoscopic Surgery: This alternative surgery option generally allows for a faster, easier, and more pain-free recovery. During this surgery, an endoscope (a flexible tube with a camera attachment at the end) is inserted at the wrist (or wrist and palm). The surgeon will then cut the transverse carpal ligament, which in turn releases pressure on the median nerve.
The doctors at DSP Health System will be able to further discuss the best treatment plan for you.