What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. Symptoms can vary widely in severity from intermittent tingling in the hands to permanent numbness. The symptoms can be worsened by a number of activities. You may notice: numbness, burning, or pain in your hands or arms that wakes you from sleep at night; numbness and tingling while driving; or worsening of your symptoms after increased activity with the hands.
Unfortunately, the symptoms often come back relatively soon after going back to sleep, putting your hands on the steering wheel, or resuming the exacerbating activity. This can be quite frustrating if this activity is something you need to do for work or something you like to do for leisure. Other activities that can worsen symptoms include talking on the phone, doing your hair, reading a book, or other similar movements.
Numbness most commonly affects the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger. The small finger is not typically affected in carpal tunnel syndrome but may be affected in a similar condition called cubital tunnel syndrome which we also diagnose and treat at Elite Carpal Tunnel. Carpal tunnel may also radiate into the forearm and upper arm. You may also notice clumsiness of the hand or that you are frequently dropping things. Nonsurgical and surgical treatments provided at Elite Carpal Tunnel can alleviate these symptoms.
What causes the symptoms?
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms occur when one of the major nerves to the hand — the median nerve — is squeezed or compressed as it travels from the forearm to the hand through a part of the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The cause of this pressure is typically unknown. This pressure on the nerve causes the nerve to be irritated in the early stages and then becomes progressively damaged as carpal tunnel syndrome advances.
This pressure on the nerve can affect both sensory and motor function of the hand. As carpal tunnel syndrome advances from mild to severe, numbness intensifies from intermittent to constant, and some muscles in the hand can develop weakness and eventually atrophy. At Elite Carpal Tunnel, we will help you to relieve this pressure and the associated symptoms.
What if I don’t get my carpal tunnel treated?
In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are important. Early on, symptoms can often be relieved with simple measures like wearing a wrist splint or avoiding certain activities.
If pressure on the median nerve continues, however, it can lead to nerve damage and worsening symptoms. Nerve damage can result in permanent numbness and atrophy (weakening) of some of the muscles in the hand. To prevent permanent damage, surgery to take pressure off the median nerve may be recommended for some patients.