Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can occur when the median nerve becomes compressed due to swelling of the tendons or nerve or both. The median nerve plays the role of providing sensation to the palm side of the index finger, middle finger, thumb, and the inner half of the ring finger.

It also innervates or empowers muscles in the hand and forearm to enable a pincher grasp, which is the ability to hold an object between the forefinger and thumb. When the median nerve becomes pinched or impinged, the affected hand and fingers may experience numbness, tingling or pain, which may even extend to the forearm.

Causes

Carpal tunnel syndrome may occur due to various reasons, but in a majority of patients it is not possible to identify the cause. In general, any condition that places pressure on the median nerve at the wrist can result in the syndrome. Scientists are aware that excessive repeated movements of the hands and wrists, such as prolonged typing on the keyboard, may trigger symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

If the symptoms are not addressed medically, the condition can become chronic. If the symptoms are identified early and treatment is sought, the patient may make a full recovery within a few months. Severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are also treatable, but the recovery may take up to a year, and may not be a fully recovery in many cases.

Symptoms

Initial symptoms may include fingers falling ‘asleep’ or becoming numb at night. While sleeping, the fingers, hands and wrists are relaxed, and that is why the numbness may occur at that time. Fluid may get collected in the area around the joint and put pressure. Numbness and a burning sensation may run up to the center of the patient’s forearm, and may go sometimes as far as the shoulder.

Treatment

Medication may be prescribed to treat mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. The patient may be administered a short course of anti-inflammatory medications or steroidal injections in the wrist to reduce the swelling. Injections in case of mild to moderate condition can be very successful.

If the condition does not improve with drug treatments, the doctor may recommend the option of surgery. The surgery will involve opening up of the carpal tunnel to cut the ligament and relieve the pressure. Carpal tunnel surgery is usually quite effective in relieving the symptoms of pain when the condition involves nerve constriction alone.

Encino Medical