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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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At Garden State Orthopaedic Associates we treat many conditions that affect the hands and wrists. One of the most common conditions we treat, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), is a nerve compression disorder that can cause many uncomfortable and even permanently debilitating symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve, which provides sensation to the thumb and three middle fingers, as well as motor function to the thumb. There are many risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing pressure on the median nerve, including the arrangement of anatomical structures in the wrist, past injuries, repetitive stress, certain diseases, and other health concerns. Irritation of the median nerve can result in numbness, tingling, and a host of other uncomfortable symptoms that can have a negative impact on work productivity and quality of life.

Whether pain and numbness have caused difficulty using your hands at work, playing sports, performing daily activities, or sleeping comfortably, we strongly encourage you to seek help from our experienced orthopaedic team and explore your options for relief. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to suffer irreversible nerve damage because of carpal tunnel syndrome. At our practice we have orthopaedic surgeons who specialize in treatment of the hand and routinely diagnose and treat carpal tunnel syndrome using a variety of different non-surgical therapies and wrist surgery techniques. Each treatment plan developed is customized to achieve the greatest degree of improvement with the least invasive therapeutic solution.

Concerned that you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome? Our doctors can help. Contact Garden State Orthopaedic Associates today to schedule an appointment.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition where the median nerve of the arm becomes compressed or otherwise irritated as it passes through the narrow carpal tunnel of the wrist. The affected nerve can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand and/or arm and may even reduce the strength and function of the hand.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome typically begin slowly and occur intermittently, and often become more severe and even constant as time goes on. Common signs of this condition can include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers (excluding the pinky finger)
  • Traveling numbness, tingling, or pain along the arm
  • A shock-like feeling in the fingers
  • Burning pain
  • Constant numbness
  • Weakness of the hand
  • Loss of thumb muscle strength

Without medical treatment the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can become progressively more severe. As inflammation and pressure worsens, and blood flow to the median nerve continues to be restricted, nerve damage becomes increasingly likely. When you begin noticing any of these signs or symptoms, finding an experienced orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in treatment of the hands is important. An early diagnosis may prevent the condition from advancing and can potentially lead to successful treatment using a variety of non-invasive and minimally-invasive techniques.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Risk Factors

While the precise cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is not known, doctors and researchers have identified many risk factors that have been linked to the condition. These factors may increase chances of developing median nerve irritation/damage. Typically, a combination of the following risk factors leads to incidences of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Repetitive wrist stress and/or strain in the workplace
  • Soft-tissue inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Arthritis of the wrist bones
  • Naturally small carpal tunnels
  • Fracture of the wrist
  • Conditions that can damage the nerves (diabetes)
  • Dislocation of the wrist
  • Wrist strain or sprain
  • Obesity
  • Fluid retention

In addition, it is also known that women often develop carpal tunnel syndrome at a higher rate than men.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis

Initial diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome involves physical examination and testing (range of motion, grip strength, and reflex testing), a thorough discussion of your medical history, and a review of your symptoms.

At Garden State Orthopaedic Associates our doctors commonly request X-rays to look for anatomical abnormalities and additional neurological studies, such as nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and electromyography (EMG) testing. These studies allow them to learn more about where the median nerve is being compressed, to determine the degree of compression, and to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment Options

Once you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss the treatment options that are available to you. At Garden State Orthopaedic Associates we believe in starting with conservative treatment methods to avoid unnecessary surgical procedures. One or a combination of the following treatment options may be recommended to relieve your symptoms:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Heat and cold treatments
  • A splint to immobilize the wrist and allow it to rest
  • Steroid injections to relieve inflammation
  • Physical therapy to reduce strain and retrain the muscles

A customized treatment strategy will be formulated based on your unique anatomical needs, risk factors, and symptom severity. If conservative, non-surgical methods are proven to be unsuccessful, the next step is to discuss surgical treatments that may offer you relief.

Surgery is required only for the most severe and chronic cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. Techniques for alleviating pain and numbness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome typically involve releasing the carpal ligament to alleviate pressure on the median nerve. This is designed to widen the carpal tunnel, which can relieve pressure, inflammation, and pain. After surgery, physical therapy sessions can help you restore proper function and prevent re-injury in the future.

If you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and want relief, please contact our office to schedule an initial appointment with one of our board-certified orthopaedic surgeons.