X

Carpal Tunnel

Home Specialties Hand And Upper Extremity Carpal Tunnel

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the Hand?

If you have noticed persistent sensations of tingling, numbness, or weakness in your hands, you could be experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This condition occurs as the result of excessive compression placed on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the hand. The roof of this tunnel is a connective tissue called the transverse carpal ligament.

When the surrounding tissues cause the flexor tendons to become inflamed, or when the tunnel itself is restricted, the median nerve becomes compressed. Since the median nerve's job is to transit feeling to the hands and fingers, compression means that feeling is being cut off. The median nerve also supplies important nerve supply to the muscles of the thumb, and compression can cause difficulty using the hand for certain activities.

Additionally, those who make repetitive hand movements where the wrist is bent downward and women who are pregnant tend to be at risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

What are the Types of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the Hand?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome itself is the result of either an underlying illness, an injury to the carpal tunnel, repetitive hand motions that put pressure on the median nerve, or pregnancy. It often occurs in both arms but can occur in just one.

Why Might you Need Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the Hand

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be painful and ultimately debilitating ailment impacting your ability to conduct daily tasks, such as writing and driving. At-home remedies (such as cold compresses) and switching up your daily activities can reduce the severity of your symptoms but, in many cases, the underlying cause needs to be treated for much improvement to be felt.

Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

How do I prepare for Carpal Tunnel Treatment?

The best way to prepare yourself for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatment is to know what to expect and ask your doctor questions. You should expect to undergo blood tests and/or nerve tests before a diagnosis even occurs, since these tests can help to detect potential underlying causes of your tingling and numbness.

You might also be prescribed medications or steroid joint injections to alleviate some of your pain. The steroids will be injected into your wrists, right where the carpal bones are located. These injections are relatively painless and quick. If you are concerned about any potential side effects, you should ask your doctor to explain more about your treatment.

What are the Risks/Potential Complications of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the Hand?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common illness but can be a good indicator that something more chronic is going on with the body. Those with hypothyroidism, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, eosinophilia, trigeminal sensory neuropathy, and mixed connective tissue disease tend to exhibit Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a symptom.

What Happens During the Treatment/Surgery?

After your doctor has done the required testing and given you a diagnosis, they might make a few different recommendations based on the severity of your symptoms.

Splints are commonly recommended forms of treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and are mainly worn at night. These splints help to keep your wrists straightened so that pressure can be relieved from the median nerve. You will be given either working splints for the daytime or resting splints for the nighttime, or both should your doctor see fit.

Sometimes, your doctor will recommend that you see a physiotherapist to help you get fitted for your splints if you need them to be custom-made. You will be instructed on how to wear your splints and how long you should be wearing them for.

Additionally, a physiotherapist will be able to recommend exercises that you can do in order to relieve pressure from the median nerve and generate better blood flow throughout your arms. These exercises can range from being very simple to involving the use of a tennis ball or weight.

Nonsurgical procedures might not be enough to relieve the compression which, in that case, will likely require surgery. The surgical procedure is known as carpal tunnel release. During carpal tunnel release, the surgeon cuts the transverse carpal ligament along the roof of the tunnel, allowing pressure to dissipate and create more space in the tunnel as the incision heals. Surgery is usually done in outpatient format while you are under general or local anesthesia.

What Happens During Recovery/Rehabilitation?

If you undergo surgery, you will likely be requried by your doctor to keep your hand elevated above your heart, as this keeps blood flowing, muscles loose, and swelling to a minimum. You will likely feel some pain in your palm in addition to some inflammation and stiffness. This could last anywhere from a few weeks to a month or two post-operation.

You will notice that your pinch and grip strength is fairly weak after the surgery, and it could take several months to notice much improvement. In some cases, this can take up to a year to recover. After surgery, your doctor might recommend that you wear splints but allow your wrists some freedom of movement. In fact, your doctor might give you the green light to get back behind the wheel of your car not long after your surgery.

Conclusion

If you are concerned that you might have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you should contact your orthopedic surgeon. There are multiple treatment options available should you be diagnosed, and there is a good prognosis for recovery of feeling and strength in your hands if you do get surgery. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor about what treatment methods will work best for you, since you deserve to have fully functional, pain-free hands and wrists.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Doerr

Get In Touch

If you are in pain from an injury or dealing with a chronic condition, we are here to help.

Contact Us