Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and How It Is Treated

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that starts in the hands and fingers, can cause numbness, tingling and pain and can become worse over time. The condition is caused by compression of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand through the carpal tunnel, located at the front of the wrist. The median nerve controls hand and wrist movements, along with feeling in the first three fingers and thumb. The only finger not affected by the median nerve is the little one as a different nerve controls that finger.

Compression of the median nerve can be caused by anything that makes the tunnel smaller, especially swelling. The most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive hand movements over a long period, especially if the hands are bent lower than the wrists; however, there are other risk factors as well. Below, are the most common symptoms and other major risk factors of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Experiencing Symptoms: The major symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand around the thumb and first three fingers, often giving the sensation of “pins and needles.” Some patients have reported pain all the way up to their elbow.   This will only happen in the thumb and first three fingers. The median nerve does not control the little finger. Most patients report that their pain starts at night, and they often get relief by shaking their hands.

Specific Health Conditions: Some chronic conditions could cause carpal tunnel syndrome because of the additional fluid retention and pressure placed on the carpal tunnel. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common cause because it is an inflammation of joints, usually affecting the smaller joints of the feet and hands. It can cause joint deformity, which narrows the carpal tunnel and causes a pinching of the median nerve. Other chronic conditions that may put an individual at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome are obesity, kidney failure, diabetes and thyroid disorders.

Treatment: Carpal Tunnel Release is an effective surgical procedure for those experiencing chronic pain, numbness and tingling as a result of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This procedure relieves symptoms by releasing or decompressing the nerve that is causing the symptoms. The entire procedure is carried out through 1 or 2 small incisions in the palm and patients are able to return home the same day.

Dr. Elizabeth Morrison, a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in the hand, leads the Hand Team at Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Dr. Morrison uses a multidisciplinary approach to create a treatment plan that focuses on the patient’s lifestyle and activities and helps them get back to those activities quickly and effectively.  Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine has locations throughout Long Island and Manhattan.  Contact us today to schedule your consultation.