What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Considered the most frequently experienced nerve disorder today, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the wrist, is squeezed. The end result is a pinched nerve that causes numbness, weakness or loss of function of the hand.
Though the roots of carpal tunnel syndrome are well known, many cases are brought on by a combination of causes, which include:
- Family history
- Positioning of hand and wrist, as extreme flexing or extending the hand or wrist increases pressure on the median nerve
- Repetitive hand or wrist movements
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Because there is some risk that carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers will later experience inflammatory rheumatic conditions, understanding symptoms of carpal tunnel may help catch future rheumatologic conditions earlier. Symptoms include:
- Concentrated pain — Carpal tunnel syndrome sends sensations of pain, tingling, numbness and burning, typically concentrated in all fingers but the pinky.
- Radiating pain — Some cases involve shock-like pain radiating to various fingers or up the forearm and beyond.
- Sleeping trouble — Some experience difficulty sleeping, as the associated pain wakes them.
- Weakened grip — Because of pain and numbness, weakness in the affected hand occurs, causing difficulty performing tasks and clumsiness.
Depending on the severity of carpal tunnel syndrome, treatment options include:
- Medication — Various medical therapies may be prescribed for temporary pain relief, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids.
- Splinting — Initial treatment for mild carpal tunnel syndrome is often wearing a splint on the affected wrist and not performing aggravating activities.
- Surgery — Available as an open or minimally invasive procedure, the outpatient procedure involves cutting the ligament that is pressed against the median nerve.
Ready for an Appointment?
If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat carpal tunnel syndrome.