Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Are you experiencing numbness, tingling, and weakness in one or both of your hands? If so, there’s a good chance that you’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway made up of small bones in your wrist. The median nerve, which assists with finger movement, travels through the carpal tunnel. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs if the median nerve is compressed or squeezed in any way. Usually, this occurs because the tunnel narrows or tendons surrounding the tunnel are swollen and put direct pressure on the nerve.

What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may include:

  • Numbness, tingling, burning, and general pain in the hand and fingers. Pain may also radiate up the arm towards the shoulder.
  • Occasional shock-like sensations that shoot across the hand and radiate out to the fingers.
  • Difficulty performing simple tasks like tying your shoes, buttoning a shirt, or signing a document due to weakness in the hand.
  • Atrophy of hand muscles in extreme cases.

Typically, these symptoms start gradually and may even come and go at first. As time goes on the symptoms will get worse and become more persistent.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • Repetitive hand use. Tendons may get swollen if you repeat the same hand and wrist motions over and over again. Assembly line workers, cashiers, hair stylists, data entry workers, and musicians often get carpal tunnel syndrome due to the nature of their jobs.
  • Pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling around the medial nerve.
  • Certain health conditions. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalances are all conditions that may bring on carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Trauma to the wrist.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

If you think that you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, make an appointment with a pain specialist or an orthopedist. He or she will carefully examine your hand and wrist and perform a number of physical tests to determine your levels of pain and muscle weakness.

You doctor may also recommend Electromyography (EMG), which is a diagnostic procedure used to assess the health of your hand muscles and the motor neurons that cause those muscles to contract. Another diagnostic test, called Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS), measures the speed and strength of electrical signals traveling between two or more muscles. These tests can help your doctor make a definitive diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

There are various ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Lifestyle changes. If your symptoms are due to repetitive motion, you can take more frequent breaks or do a bit less of the activity that’s causing you pain. You doctor may also prescribe exercises for you to do at home.
  • Immobilization. The doctor may give you a splint to keep your wrist from moving and to lessen pressure on the nerves.
  • Medication. Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid shots to reduce swelling.
  • Surgery. In the most extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. A surgeon will perform an operation to widen the carpal tunnel, which will release pressure on the median nerve.

The most important thing is that you see a doctor as soon as you start experiencing the symptoms described above. It’s easiest to treat and reverse carpal tunnel syndrome as soon as symptoms appear. If ignored, the condition will worsen and your only option may be surgery.

If you’re experiencing pain that’s interfering with your quality of life, then make an appointment to see a pain specialist such as Dr. Mingi Choi of Somerset Orthopedic & Sports Medicine. Dr. Choi has more than 25 years of experience successful diagnosing and treating those who suffer from chronic pain. He is board-certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a Fellow of American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

​New Jersey's Top Docs

Dr. James Parolie, M.D.

Specializ​ing in Sports Medicine Injuries and Arthroscopic Surgery

Dr. ​Mingi Choi, M.D.

Specializing in Conservative and Interventional Treaments of Musculoskeletal and Spinal Disorders

For More Information or to Schedule an Appointment Contact Somerset Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Today!
Call 908-425-4990

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