Resources / Knowledge

  • Author | Brant Bell, PA-C
  • Date | 4/20/2022 8:00 am
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Is hand pain, numbness, or tingling something you have been ignoring for some time now? Do your hands go numb when you read a book, drive a car, or with simple tasks around the house? Do they tingle while you complete rake leaves or fall asleep? Are you awakened several times each night with hand pain, numbness, or tingling? If you have experienced any of the symptoms above, you might suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, otherwise known as CTS. CTS can be either debilitating or simply a nuisance. Either way, it is not something to be ignored.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The anatomy of the wrist is such that, on occasion, a large nerve called the median nerve compresses in the carpal tunnel, a passage formed by several small bones in the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by workplace factors such as repetitive or prolonged use of the wrists, especially repetitive flexing of the wrists, and excessive exposure to vibration forces. There are several other possible causes of CTS including:

  • Anatomic changes from wrist fracture or dislocation
  • Gender
  • Chronic illnesses like diabetes
  • Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Fluid retention caused by other factors such as pregnancy
  • Hormonal imbalances caused by menopause or thyroid disorders
  • Kidney failure.

Treatment Options

Regardless of the reason, it's important to seek medical care. Depending on severity, You can take non-surgical steps to alleviate your symptoms. More importantly, taking these steps can preserve the health and longevity of the nerve function in your hands.

Improve your form and care when doing repetitive tasks.

One of the obvious first steps is to reduce exposure to environments or activities that cause undue pressure on the median nerve or inhibit blood flow to your wrists. Ensure you use proper form when performing repetitive tasks. This includes activities such as using proper posture when standing or sitting, using your computer mouse or keyboard correctly, keeping your hands warm in cold areas, taking physical breaks regularly when performing extensive repetitive tasks. Other conservative treatment methods include proper stretching, wrist bracing, over-the-counter vs. prescription-strength anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy.

Receive cortisone injections

Another possibility is a cortisone injection into the carpal tunnel to relieve pressure and swelling of the median nerve and surrounding soft tissues.

If conservative efforts don't help, our providers at Sport Ortho Urgent Care will direct you to a neurologist who can perform a study called electromyography (EMG) or a nerve conduction study (NCS) to determine the severity of your CTS. If warranted, surgery might be your best option for long-term relief and restored hand function, not to mention a sustained night’s sleep.