Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common nerve disorders. According to the American College of Rheumatology, up to 10 million American adults are affected by it. Over time, the condition can lead to problems that make doing even day-to-day tasks difficult.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a nerve in the wrist is squeezed or compressed. This blocks nerve impulses and reduces blood flow leading to reduced muscle function and a loss of feeling in the hand. Over time, a person may have difficulty doing fine motor tasks, such as buttoning a shirt, opening jars or gripping items.
There are a few factors that can increase your risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Women are more likely than men to experience the condition. Certain medical conditions, including hyperthyroidism, diabetes and obesity, can also increase risk. Additionally, there is some thought that repetitive hand movements may contribute to the condition – but it is still up for debate.
Along with reduced muscle function and a loss of feeling in the hand, symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling, weakness and atrophy of the hand muscles. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your primary care provider to get evaluated and, if necessary, a referral to an orthopedic specialist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is typically diagnosed during an office visit and physical exam. A physician will evaluate your symptoms, examine your wrist and move it into positions that put pressure on the nerve to elicit symptoms. A nerve study may also be conducted, which allows physicians to better evaluate nerve function and how well electrical signals are being transmitted.
Non-surgical treatment options include taking anti-inflammatory medications and wearing a wrist brace at night. Sometimes physical therapy is also an option. Although these treatments can’t cure the condition, they can help manage and reduce symptoms.
For many people, surgery is the best treatment option. Both traditional and minimally invasive surgery are available and can provide complete symptom relief. No matter which type of surgery is done, most people find they are back at full function within about three months.
Edward-Elmhurst Health’s approach to patient care is second to none. Our physicians are able to accurately diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and surgically treat it using the latest techniques and technology. Our goal is to help patients receive the best possible outcome so they can get back to their everyday activities faster.