What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway surrounded by ligaments and bones located in the wrist, becomes narrowed or tissues surrounding the flexor tendons swell.
This abnormal pressure squeezes and compresses the median nerve, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand. This syndrome is more common in women and older people. Early diagnosis and treatment are pivotal as the condition can worsen over time. If left untreated, this extraordinary pressure on the median nerve may permanently damage the nerve and surrounding muscles. If you begin experiencing symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Arizona residents should contact our office to schedule an appointment.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
- Numbness, tingling, burning, and pain primarily in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers
- Weakness, numbness, or a lack of awareness of where the hand is in space causes you to drop things
- Pain and tingling sensation beginning in the wrist and traveling up your arm
- Limited range of motion
- An occasional shock-like sensation
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
1. Reduce Risk
While Carpal Tunnel Syndrome isn’t completely preventable, there are several ways to help reduce your risk of developing it.
- Take frequent breaks: Alternate repetitive tasks and stretch your hands and wrists whenever possible.
- Maintain proper posture: Poor posture increases your risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Ergonomic keyboards and mice encourage proper wrist posture, and ergonomic chairs help you maintain proper posture while sitting.
2. Wear a wrist splint
Wearing a snug wrist splint stabilizes your wrist and minimizes the pressure placed on your median nerve. You can purchase one at most drug stores, and your doctor may prescribe one.
Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen, can help relieve your pain. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, or anesthetics. Products containing lidocaine may relieve symptoms.
4. Corticosteroid Injections
Corticosteroid injections decrease inflammation and swelling in the wrist.
If your symptoms do not respond to non-surgical treatment or worsen, your doctor may recommend surgery to relieve the pressure on your median nerve.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnostic Tests
Your doctor will review your symptom history and perform a physical examination of your hand and wrist. This typically involves them pressing or tapping the median nerve, examining your range of motion, and testing the sensitivity in your hands and fingertips. They may order a variety of medical tests, such as:
- Electrophysiological tests: measures pressure on the median nerve
- Ultrasound: searches for signs of compression on the median nerve
- Imaging tests: X-rays, MRI
These tests are often used to rule out other potential causes of wrist and hand pain, such as fractures or arthritis.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
- Repetitive motions, such as typing or scrolling on your phone, and hand/wrist position, such as maintaining extreme flexion or extension of the hand and wrist for a prolonged period of time
- Health conditions such as obesity, arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause swelling
- Heredity: Your genetics greatly influence the size of your carpal tunnels
- Wrist fracture: These can narrow the carpal tunnel and place undue pressure on the median nerve.