Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition cause by increased pressure on the median nerve at the wrist. The nerve runs through a tunnel in the wrist along with 9 tendons that attach muscles in the forearm to the bones in your hand. These tendons help bend your fingers. Swelling that occurs in the tunnel around the nerve can compress the nerve, causing numbness, tingling and pain in the wrist, hand and fingers (typically your thumb, index, middle and part of your ring finger), and weakness in the muscles of the thumb that help you pinch. Fractures and arthritis can also narrow the tunnel and pinch the nerve, as can fluid retention from pregnancy, diabetes and thyroid conditions. Certain activities such as driving, reading and sleeping can bring on symptoms. Diagnosis can often be made by physical exam alone, although sometimes your physician may send you for additional testing to determine whether there are any measurable changes in the speed of nerve conduction or damage to the muscles of the thumb. Non-operative treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome include splints/orthoses, exercise, activity modification and steroid injections. If non-operative measures fail, or symptoms are severe, surgery may be necessary. The carpal tunnel is opened by a surgical release, which can be done open or endoscopically. Each type offers different advantages, and should be considered after a thorough evaluation of the patient's individual condition.

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