What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and arm.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on your median nerve, one of the main nerves in the hand, which gives feeling to the thumb and all fingers in the hand except the pinky finger.  It originates in the neck and goes down the arm and forearm where it passes through the carpal tunnel, which is a narrow path made of bone and ligament in the wrist that is about an inch wide.

Cause

  • Women and older adults are more likely to develop this condition
  • Heredity
  • Repetitive hand use
  • Hand and wrist position during repetitive activities
  • Pregnancy
  • Health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and thyroid gland imbalance

Carpal tunnel symptoms

  • Numbness, tingling, burning and pain primarily in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers
  • Occasional shock-like sensation that radiates to the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers
  • Pain or tingling that may travel up the forearm toward the shoulder
  • Weakness and clumsiness in the hand
  • Dropping things due to weakness, numbness or being unaware of where your hand is in space

Physician examination

To determine whether you have carpal tunnel, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history and when you started experiencing wrist pain, have you describe your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or EMG may be necessary to assess the severity of the nerve function loss.

Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment

Carpal tunnel is a gradual process and in most cases symptoms will worsen overtime without treatment. It is important to be evaluated and diagnosed by your physician early on to slow or stop the progression of the disease. Most cases can be treated with nonsurgical methods such as:

  • Bracing or splinting
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofren
  • Activity changes (Difficult if work-related)
  • Nerve gliding exercises
  • Steroid injections
  • If symptoms do not respond after nonsurgical treatments, your physician may recommend carpal tunnel surgery.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our Raleigh Orthopaedic Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

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