What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is pressure on the median nerve at the wrist which can cause numbness, tingling, pain and weakness in the hand. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist through which the nerve and tendons pass through on their way to hand.  If the passageway becomes narrower because of things like swelling, the nerve will have increased pressure on it and this can result in CTS.

Who Gets CTS?

It’s a common notion that CTS occurs in people who use a computer keyboard and mouse for several hours throughout the day.  There is some truth to that, however CTS can occur from other causes. Examples include an injury and other medical problems such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, and arthritis.  CTS can also occur during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of CTS?

CTS is a nerve problem so changes in sensation are the most common symptoms.  These changes are most notable in the thumb, index, long and ring fingers.  The most common change in sensation is numbness and tingling and often these symptoms are worse at night and may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Occasionally people will experience burning as well as electrical shocks in their hands and fingers.  You may also feel that your hand has become weak, and you may begin to drop things.  

How is CTS treated?

Often CTS will be treated with nonsurgical methods first.  Nighttime wrist braces, exercises and over the counter medications can be helpful to reduce the symptoms of CTS.  If these measures fail to improve the symptoms of CTS, surgery may be necessary.

What should I do if I think I have CTS?

If you think you have CTS, schedule an appointment with one of the members of the Hand and Wrist team at Total Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.  You will be evaluated with a complete hand and wrist examination and will be guided as to the best treatment option for you.

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