How Do you Get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist, is a hand and arm condition that results in uncomfortable symptoms like numbness, tingling, and even pain. It’s a repetitive use injury with a number of contributing factors, and in this blog the orthopedic surgeons at Mirza Orthopedics will demystify this common hand condition.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common repetitive use injury affecting the median nerve. This is one of the primary nerves serving the arm and hand; it runs from the neck through the shoulder and down the length of the arm to the wrist, where it enters a small passage in the wrist bones called the carpal tunnel before entering the hand. In carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve—which gives feeling and function to the hand–becomes compressed where it passes through the carpal tunnel, resulting in classic carpal tunnel symptoms.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The median nerve serves the thumb, first and second fingers, and one half of the ring finger, and this is where symptoms are most often felt, though they may also affect the wrist and/or arm. You may have carpal tunnel if:
- Your hand, particularly your thumb, index or middle fingers, has episodes of numbness or tingling
- You have the feeling that these fingers have “fallen asleep,” (i.e. “pins-and-needles” feeling), especially when you’re holding something.
- You have pain or discomfort in your hand or wrist
- You have pain that radiates up your arm toward your shoulder
- You begin to lose coordination in your fingers, or they become weak
- You lose muscle at the base of your thumb
Carpal tunnel symptoms generally come and go to begin with, and usually begin with numbness and tingling along with wrist discomfort. As the condition progresses, the symptoms become more constant.
What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression or irritation of the median nerve where it passes through the carpal tunnel. This small space allows passage of not just the nerve, but the flexor tendons which connect the muscles on the underside of the forearm to the fingers, allowing you to curl your fingers and grip things. It’s a very crowded space, and when any kind of irritation occurs, swelling of the tissues puts pressure on the nerve. In many cases, there is no one single cause for carpal tunnel syndrome, but instead it’s brought on by a combination of different factors.
What are the treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome?
In some cases—especially during the early stages—conservative treatment may be enough to relieve carpal tunnel symptoms. Conservative treatment includes:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- A splint or night brace which immobilizes the wrist while sleeping or during activities that bring symptoms on
- Avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms
- Steroid injections
In other cases, especially more advanced cases, surgery may be necessary. This procedure is known as a carpal tunnel release, and it can provide long-term relief when conservative measures have been unsuccessful.
Surgery is only considered when conservative treatment has failed, and is most often used in severe cases where symptoms are constant and unrelenting or the thumb muscles have become unsuccessful.
Where can I find treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome on Long Island?
If you’re experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, the first step toward relieving your discomfort is to have a consultation with one of our specialists. Mirza Orthopedics is excited to offer a cutting-edge, minimally invasive endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery. Our system, developed by Dr. Ather Mirza, utilizes a clear cannula (a small tube) that provides complete protection and 360-degree visualization of the median nerve and ligament throughout the procedure.
The earlier you seek treatment the more likely you are to have a full recovery. So if you’re suffering from carpal tunnel symptoms, contact Mirza Orthopedics today to schedule an appointment.