Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Understanding the Numbness and Tingling in Your Wrist

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition affecting the hand and wrist, causing pain, numbness, and tingling. It arises from pressure on the median nerve, a crucial nerve running through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. This tunnel, formed by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand, acts as a passageway for the median nerve and tendons that control finger movement.
Understanding the Carpal Tunnel and Median Nerve:
Imagine the carpal tunnel as a narrow corridor. The median nerve, responsible for sensation and movement in the thumb, index, middle, and half of the ring finger, travels through this corridor along with tendons that flex your fingers. When swelling or inflammation occurs within the tunnel, it compresses the median nerve, leading to the characteristic symptoms of CTS.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Several factors can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
  • Repetitive hand and wrist motions: Activities that involve forceful gripping or prolonged wrist bending, such as typing, using computer games, or certain assembly line jobs, can irritate the tendons and increase pressure within the carpal tunnel.
  • Underlying medical conditions: CTS can be associated with medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy due to fluid retention and inflammation.
  • Wrist injuries: Fractures or sprains of the wrist can cause swelling and inflammation, impacting the median nerve.
  • Anatomy: Some individuals may have a naturally narrower carpal tunnel, making them more susceptible to CTS.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
The hallmark symptoms of CTS typically develop gradually and worsen over time. They include:
  • Numbness, tingling, or prickling sensation in the thumb, index, middle, and half of the ring finger, often worse at night or upon waking up.
  • Pain in the palm or wrist that may radiate up the forearm.
  • Weakness or clumsiness in the hand, making it difficult to grasp or hold objects.
  • Aching or burning sensation in the thumb and fingers.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
A comprehensive evaluation by a hand specialist is essential for diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctor will typically inquire about your symptoms, medical history, occupation, and activities that aggravate your discomfort. A physical examination will assess for tenderness, weakness, and sensory changes in the affected hand. In some cases, additional tests like nerve conduction studies or electromyography (EMG) may be needed to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of nerve compression.
Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
The treatment approach for CTS depends on the severity of your symptoms and their impact on your daily life. Common treatment options include:
  • Non-surgical measures: Wrist splinting at night helps maintain a neutral wrist position and reduce pressure on the median nerve. Anti-inflammatory medications can alleviate pain and swelling. Activity modification may be recommended to avoid movements that exacerbate symptoms. Physical therapy exercises can strengthen hand and wrist muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Injections of cortisone medication directly into the carpal tunnel can offer temporary relief from inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where conservative measures fail to provide adequate relief, carpal tunnel release surgery may be recommended. This minimally invasive surgery involves dividing the carpal ligament to create more space within the tunnel and alleviate pressure on the median nerve

Living With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Early diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome are crucial to prevent permanent nerve damage and hand dysfunction. If you experience persistent numbness, tingling, or pain in your hand or wrist, consult a hand specialist to discuss the best course of treatment for you. With proper management, most individuals with CTS can experience significant improvement in their symptoms and regain full use of their hand.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Nilesh Chaudhari:
Dr. Nilesh Chaudhari is a highly regarded hand and foot surgeon serving patients in Pearland, Clear Lake, Friendswood, and Pasadena. With his extensive experience and expertise in carpal tunnel syndrome, Dr. Chaudhari can help you explore treatment options and get you back to using your hand comfortably.
If you're experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome in Pearland, Friendswood, Pasadena, or Clear Lake, and are considering carpal tunnel release surgery, Dr. Nilesh Chaudhari is a board-certified hand and foot surgeon with extensive experience in minimally invasive carpal tunnel surgery.
  • Phone: (281) 456-4412 or (832) 583-2273 (BONE)
  • Fax: (281) 205-8356
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Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this webpage is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. For personalized medical advice and treatment options, please consult with our qualified orthopedic specialists.