Carpal Tunnel Treatment
Carpal tunnel syndrome is defined by numbness or tingling in the hand that can also be accompanied by weakness, pain and pressure. These symptoms are due to pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. Tendons and the median nerve run through a small passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel, which is where the name of the syndrome comes from.
If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause irreparable nerve damage that can lead to permanent numbness. In rare cases, some patients have had a complete loss of function in some of the muscles that control the thumb.
Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
Carpal tunnel tends to progress slowly, with some of the most common symptoms including:
- Numbness in the hand, forearm or wrist
- Tingling or “pins and needles” sensation
- Pain that gets worse while using your hand or wrist
- Stiffness in the fingers when waking up in the morning
- Reduced strength or grip in your fingers
Carpal Tunnel Causes
Women are more likely to develop carpal tunnel than men, and any age group can be affected. However, it becomes more of a risk during your 40s and 50s.
There are also certain scenarios and conditions that can increase risk:
- Frequent use of vibrating hand tools
- Medical conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, gout and rheumatoid arthritis
Carpal Tunnel Treatment Options
If you suspect you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, visiting an orthopaedic specialist will help get you on the road to recovery.
Treatment will depend on your condition, but options for relief include:
- Physical therapy
- Cortisone injections
- Surgery in rare, extreme cases
If symptoms are still present after splinting, rest and physical therapy, nerve testing can be done to further confirm the diagnosis and assess for severity. Cortisone injections usually become the next line of treatment, with relief of symptoms occurring in most patients.
For those who don’t find relief from splinting and injections, then surgery can provide relief of symptoms. The surgical procedure involves an endoscopic carpal tunnel release that is done with a camera through a small incision. This procedure provides faster recovery and return to activity.
Regardless of the method used, most patients can enjoy permanent relief of symptoms if they seek treatment from an orthopaedic specialist.