Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

One of the most common issues that bring patients to wrist surgeon is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the fingers and thumb. It is basically caused due to compression of the median nerve, which is located in the wrist and is responsible for imparting sensation to the first three fingers and thumb.

Causes:
The major cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is pressure on the median nerve. This pressure is due to swelling or any condition that makes the carpal tunnel smaller. Some other causes that lead to the syndrome include:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
  • Wrist injuries
  • Certain wrist movements, which are made repeatedly
  • Smoking also causes the syndrome by reducing blood flow to the median nerve

Symptoms:

  • Some of the common symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are:
  • Numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger except little finger
  • Pain in arms between elbow and the hand
  • These symptoms may be more noticeable at night and the problem often subsides by shaking hand.
  • The doctors often diagnose this problem by physically examining hands, neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists. They may ask many questions to the patient related to their health and activities. They may also conduct some blood and nerve tests to confirm the problem.

Treatment:
Initially the symptoms can be treated at home by taking proper care for wrist and hands. It is important that the patient should start the treatment as soon as possible, as this will prevent long-term damages.

  • A patient may feel better by giving rest or icing the wrist for a few minutes.
  • A patient can also take anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
  • Patients are advised to wear wrist splint at night, which helps in keeping wrist in a neutral position.

Though mild cases may be treated with braces, injections, or self management techniques, moderate and severe cases need surgery. During surgery, a wrist surgeon makes an incision from the palm to the wrist, or a limited incision in the palm. The surgery is also done with an endoscopic carpal tunnel release that uses a fibro-optic instrument. Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can have a recovery time of three to four months.

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