The Vault

Spine Center of Texas will be discussing everything you need to know about carpal tunnel syndrome and its treatment options:

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand or arm. This happens when the median nerve – a major nerve in the hand – gets compressed as it travels through the wrist. This condition can get worse over time.Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment is important if you want to avoid worsening symptoms and nerve damage.

What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome? 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by one or a combination of the following factors:

  • Heredity – Some people have smaller carpal tunnels or they have a different anatomy that changes the amount of space for the nerve.
  • Using hands repetitively – Using the same hand and wrist motions over a long period of time can aggravate wrist tendons. This can lead to swelling that puts pressure on the nerve.
  • Doing extreme hand or wrist flexes – Increased pressure is put on your nerve receives if you’re involved in activities that entail flexing and extending your hand or wrist for long periods of time.
  • Pregnancy – Hormonal changes often cause swelling during pregnancy.
  • Health conditions – Conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalance can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

What are the treatments options available for carpal tunnel syndrome? 

Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to get worse if left untreated. It is, therefore, important for the doctor to evaluate and diagnose the condition early on. If detected early, its easy to slow or even stop the progression of the disease.

  • Nonsurgical treatment options – Carpal tunnel syndrome can be relieved without surgery if it’s detected early. Wearing a brace or splint at night can prevent you from bending your wrist while doing daily activities. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help with the pain and inflammation. Also, changes in activity are an effective counter-measure. If your job or recreational activity aggravates your symptoms, you should change or modify your movements to slow or stop the disease progression.
  • Surgical treatment options – If your  symptoms don’t improve with nonsurgical approach, your doctor may recommend surgery as the next step. “Carpal tunnel release” will be preformed to prevent irreversible damage for long standing cases with constant numbness and wasting of thumb muscles. This surgical technique aims to relieve the pressure on your median nerve by cutting the ligament that forms the roof of the tunnel. There is also an open surgery approach wherein the surgeon will make a small incision on your palm and divide the transverse carpal ligament to increase the size of the tunnel.

 

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