If you’re experiencing pain, tingling, or numbness in the arm or hands, you might be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. The pain could be severe, especially after using your arm for long periods.
Finding the right treatment is the key to relieving your carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. John Andrachuk offers plenty of experience with many types of injuries, including carpal tunnel injuries. If you’re looking for the right Orthopedic Sports Medicine surgeon in Atlanta, Dr. Andrachuk is a top choice.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Also called median nerve compression, carpal tunnel syndrome causes weakness in the hand, along with numbness and tingling. When pressure is put on the median nerve, it causes carpal tunnel syndrome.
The median serve runs the length of your arm through a passage known as the carpal tunnel. It ends at your hand and runs through your wrist. The median nerve controls feeling and movement in the thumb, along with in all other fingers, except the pinky finger.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Burning, itching numbness, tingling in the thumb, index finger, palms, or middle fingers
- Weakness in the hand and trouble gripping things
- Tingling throughout the arm
- A shock-like feeling through the fingers
It might start at night with your fingers falling asleep or becoming numb. This could be due to the way you hold your hand at night when you’re asleep.
The morning hours might bring more of a tingling sensation or numbness, which could go all the way up your arm to the shoulder. It’s common for symptoms to flare up during the day when holding something or when your wrist is bent.
When you first experience carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, you might gain relief from shaking out your hands. However, as it gets worse, this won’t work anymore. The pain will likely get worse and you might experience muscle cramping, as well.
Most Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It’s common for patients to have no idea what caused the carpal tunnel syndrome. The most common carpal tunnel syndrome causes include:
- Repetitive motions using the wrist and hands
- Thyroid disease
Activities causing extreme flexion or extension of the hand for prolonged periods
Many things can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, but it’s most commonly caused by repetitive motions with the wrist and hands.
Most Common Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are a few types of people more commonly prone to carpal tunnel syndrome due to their job or hobbies. Some of the common risk factors include:
- Athletic hobbies causing regular use of the hands and wrist, such as golfing or tennis
- Jobs requiring a high amount of typing
- Carrying heavy items with the wrist bent, such as trays of food in a restaurant
- Prior wrist injuries
- Smaller carpal tunnels
- Certain medications
- Body fluid changes
Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalances can also put you at a higher risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Women also tend to be at a higher risk for carpal tunnel syndrome than men.
How Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is Diagnosed
As with any physical injury, your doctor will likely begin with a physical exam. If carpal tunnel syndrome is suspected, a Tinel sign test will likely be used. This type of test has you fully flex your wrist with your arm extended.
Along with a physical exam, your doctor might order X-rays, an MRI, or use ultrasound technology to look at the tissues and bones. An Electromyogram might also be used to measure the electrical activities in your muscles.
Sometimes, a nerve conduction study can be used to help diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. This study includes taping electrodes to your skin to measure the nerve signals in your arm and hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Nonsurgical and surgical treatment options are available for carpal tunnel syndrome. Most doctors will begin by attempting to treat the injury without surgery with some of the following options:
- A carpal tunnel syndrome splint – Wearing a splint or brace at night will keep your wrist in a neutral position helping to reduce the pressure put on the nerve.
- NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Change in Activities – Often, treating carpal tunnel syndrome will include making some changes to the way you use your wrist during certain activities.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises – Also called nerve gliding exercises, this type of treatment will help the median nerve move freely within the carpal tunnel.
- Steroid Injections – Corticosteroid or cortisone can also be used to help reduce inflammation.
It’s common to attempt to relieve the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome with nonsurgical treatments first. However, if these treatments don’t work, surgery might be necessary.
Types of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery
In some cases, surgery might be necessary to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. There are two main types of surgery:
- Endoscopic surgery – A telescope-like device will be used with a tiny camera to see inside the carpal tunnel. The surgeon will cut the ligament with one or two small incisions to relieve the pain.
- Open surgery – An incision will be made in the palm of your hand and your surgeon will cut the ligaments to help free the nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is used to help free the surgery.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery Time
After the surgery has been performed, the ligament tissues will grow back. The goal is to create more room for the nerve.
The internal healing can take many months, however, the skin will likely heal in just a few weeks. Along with the internal healing process, you will likely need to go through some form of physical therapy and gradually work back up to normal use of your wrist and hand.
It may take several weeks for the weakness and soreness to go away after surgery. In severe cases, even carpal tunnel syndrome surgery may not relieve all of your symptoms completely.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
Dr. Andrachuk provides many years of experience treating carpal tunnel syndrome. If you’re experienced pain, tingling, or any other symptoms, it’s time to seek medical help. Dr. Andrachuk offers a variety of conservative treatments, along with the latest arthroscopic and minimally invasive options to relieve your carpal tunnel pain. Contact us today and schedule your in-person or telemedicine appointment!