Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the fingers, hand and wrist. This term derives its meaning from the Latin carpus and the Greek karpos, both meaning wrist. The condition occurs due to a compressed (“pinched”) nerve in the wrist. In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are important. Early on, symptoms can often be relieved with simple measures like wearing a wrist splint or avoiding certain activities.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are caused by a combination of factors. Studies show that women and older people are more likely to develop the condition. However, men and adults of any age can develop this condition.
Other risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Heredity. This is likely an important factor. The carpal tunnel may be smaller in some people, or there may be anatomic differences that change the amount of space for the nerve—and these traits can run in families.
- Repetitive hand use. Repeating the same hand and wrist motions or activities over a prolonged period of time may aggravate the tendons in the wrist, causing swelling that puts pressure on the nerve.
- Hand and wrist position. Doing activities that involve extreme flexion or extension of the hand and wrist for a prolonged period of time can increase pressure on the nerve.
- Pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling in the hand and wrist.
- Health conditions. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalance are conditions that are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated with use of a wrist brace, judicious use of anti-inflammatory medications, and avoidance of activities that can cause or worsen the condition. In other cases, a cortisone injection can be administered to the pinched nerve at the wrist. If conservative management does not relieve the CTS symptoms, a procedure called Carpal Tunnel Release (CTR) can be done. The CTR procedure is a short, outpatient procedure, usually done with local anesthesia. The CTR procedure involves release of a small band of tissue. Release of this tissue widens the carpal tunnel just enough to take pinching pressure off of the nerve.
If you think you might have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), please contact Dr. Tedd Weisman at (203) 877-5522. Patients rely on the exceptional orthopedic services of Dr. Weisman because of his extensive knowledge and experience — he works to accurately diagnose each patient’s condition and prescribe an individualized treatment plan.