by Dr. Gerald L. Farber – Fellowship Trained in Hand Surgery
As seen in the Odessa American Medical Matters:
Many patients who are experiencing hand or wrist pain are given a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome and then referred to a physician who specializes in treating orthopedic conditions affecting the upper extremities.
True carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is primarily associated with numbness and tingling in the fingers. There may be associated pain, but pain alone is not the primary symptom. The etiology, or study of cause, of these symptoms is compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, located at the base of the hand.
Typical symptoms of CTS include numbness and tingling in the fingers, typically the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Symptoms are often worse at night and can cause awakening due to numbness and pain. Many people describe shaking their hands to relieve their symptoms. The symptoms may also be aggravated during driving, or prolonged grasping with the hand (writing, holding a book, etc.). In many cases where the nerve compression has been present for a prolonged period of time, there may be atrophy, or wasting of the thumb muscle in the palm. Some medical conditions such as diabetes may predispose someone to CTS.
Initial treatment for CTS can be as simple as wrist braces at night to prevent curling of the wrist while sleeping. If this is not effective, or becomes less effective over time, then it is time to be evaluated. The evaluation typically includes an examination to elicit signs of CTS. It may also include obtaining electrodiagnostic studies to confirm the diagnosis and severity … and also to exclude other causes of the symptoms such as a pinched nerve in the neck.
More advanced treatment may include cortisone type injections in the carpal tunnel and possibly carpal tunnel surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery is a relatively straight forward procedure and is typically performed as an outpatient surgery. The success rate is quite high, at approximately 95%. Recovery from the surgery is relatively short. They patient may experience some residual tenderness in the palm that typically resolves over six to twelve weeks after the CTS surgery.
If you or someone you care about is having symptoms that indicate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, please visit your primary care physician or contact ProCare Orthopedics & Rehabilitation Center at 432-640-2790 to make an appointment.