Michigan Brain & Spine Institute Ann Arbor Spine Center  

 

Brain tumors | Stroke | Carpal Tunnel | Acute Spinal Cord Injury

Carpal tunnel syndrome

About

Carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming more and more common in today's world, which revolves around all things electronic. Carpal tunnel syndrome is typically caused by constant, repetitive movement of the hands. Swelling of the carpal tunnel tissues, due to injury or trauma, causes the median nerve at the wrist to compress. The median nerve connects and supplies sensation to many other areas of the hand. This swelling can be theresult of constant typing, driving, assembly-line work, writing or the use of hand tools.

Symptoms

  • Numbness and tingling in the fingers, especially in the thumb, the index and middle fingers
  • Weakness in the hand
  • Mild or severe pain in the hand and finger joints
  • Difficulty gripping an object
  • Tendency to drop objects
  • Loss of ability to sense temperature
  • Sensation that hand is “asleep”

Treatment

If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause the nerve to become damaged, which leads to muscle injury and weakness that may be irreversible. If any of the above symptoms are present, it’s best to seek treatment, even if symptoms are mild. This can include simply resting and splinting the wrists for a couple of weeks or making other small lifestyle changes to prevent further development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Persistent symptoms can be treated with medications like anti-inflammatory drugs or diuretics.

Ultimately, surgery is often required to relieve pressure from the nerve. A procedure called carpal tunnel release relieves pressure by cutting the ligament covering the median nerve. This surgery usually relieves pain symptoms and prevents them from returning. However, surgery is most successful when performed before permanent damage has occurred.