Carpal tunnel is a syndrome that causes tingling, numbness, and pain in the hand and arm due to a compression of the median nerve. This nerve runs through the carpal tunnel, traveling through the wrist and into your hand.
Pressure on the median nerve is often due to repetitive movements or to specific activities, such as typing, that compress the nerve. In many cases, repeated pressure can lead to permanent nerve damage and a worsening of your symptoms.
In addition to numbness, tingling, and pain, carpal tunnel may also cause electric shock-like sensations that travel through your wrist and into your fingers. You may also lose some of your hand strength and find it hard to grip objections.
Wrist numbness and pain typically develops over time. As symptoms worsen, it may become more difficult to use your hand normally.
The team starts your evaluation by discussing your job and activities to determine if you’re at risk for carpal tunnel. They also perform a physical exam, moving your wrist and fingers to identify areas of pain.
Imaging tests may help identify areas where the nerve is compressed. These tests may include an X-ray or MRI.
You may also benefit from a nerve conduction study, which measures the signals that travel through the median nerve.
One of the keys of diagnosis is to distinguish if the problem involves the median nerve by itself, other nerves, brachial plexus or its branches, a problem at the cervical spine (neck), or a combination of problems (double crush phenomenon).
At the first signs of wrist tingling or pain, the team may initially recommend rest and the use of a brace device. Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce inflammation that may be adding pressure to your median nerve, and over-the-counter pain relievers help keep you comfortable.
When your carpal tunnel symptoms become worse and interfere with your job and personal activities, you may benefit from steroid injections that address pain and inflammation quickly.
In some cases, severe carpal tunnel requires surgery to release pressure on the nerve and alleviate your symptoms.
For failed carpal tunnel surgery, severed nerves, phantom pain, nerve scars, CRPS and neuromas, treatments like pulsed peripheral nerve radiofrequency ablation and peripheral nerve stimulators can offer great results to otherwise intractable incurable conditions
The team can determine the best course of treatment based on the severity of your symptoms and your overall goal of treatment.
Find out more about treating and preventing carpal tunnel by calling the office to book an appointment.