What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome as well as other nerve syndrome are secondary to peripheral nerve compression or pressure. Pressure on the nerve can happen several ways, including:
- Swelling of the lining of the flexor tendons, called tenosynovitis
- Joint dislocations
- Fluid build-up during pregnancy
The scenarios listed above can narrow the carpal tunnel or cause swelling in the tunnel. Thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can also be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Ultimately, there can be many causes of this condition.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
- Weak grip
- Occasional clumsiness
- Tendency to drop things
The numbness or tingling most often takes place in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. Other nerve compression syndromes can cause tingling of the other fingers. The symptoms usually are felt during the night but may also be noticed during daily activities such as driving or reading a newspaper. In bad cases, sensation and strength may be permanently lost.
Symptoms can be relieved without surgery. Some treatment options are:
- Changing patterns of hand use (helps reduce pressure on the nerve)
- Keeping the wrist splinted in a straight position (helps reduce pressure on the nerve)
- Wearing wrist splints at night (helps relieve symptoms that may prevent sleep)
- Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel (helps reduce swelling around the nerve)
What about carpal tunnel surgery?
When symptoms are severe or do not improve with splinting, surgery may be needed to make more room for the nerve. Pressure on the nerve is decreased by cutting the ligament that forms the top of the tunnel on the palm side of the hand. Following surgery, soreness around the cut area may last for several weeks or months. The numbness and tingling may disappear quickly or slowly. Recovery may take several months. Carpal tunnel symptoms may not completely go away after surgery, especially in severe cases. Surgery is still beneficial in most cases as it stops further nerve injury and in most cases the nerve makes a good recovery.
Why have your carpal tunnel done with Dr. Brown?
Dr. Brown is the only surgeon in the Permian basin offering carpal tunnel surgery as a WALANT procedure (wide awake local only no tourniquet). This technique allows the surgery to be done without general or sedation anesthesia. It eliminates the risks of anesthesia and makes the recovery from surgery on the day of the procedure very simple. In many cases these surgeries can be performed in the office setting, which saves you both time and money! Most patients report this as a painless procedure and minimal pain during the recovery process.