Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that may occur when the median nerve, a major provider of sensation to your hand and fingers, becomes compressed within the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is formed by the eight wrist (carpal) bones and the transverse carpal ligament. The tunnel acts as a passageway at your wrist through which the median nerve and nine tendons pass to reach your hand. Compression of the median nerve, which occurs due to a decrease in the space inside the tunnel, may be caused by conditions such as swelling of the tissue lining the tunnel, fluid retention, presence of a ganglion cyst, an abnormal muscle structure, or other conditions. In many instances, the cause is unknown.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
You may feel as though your hand is "going to sleep". Usually, your index and middle fingers are most affected, but the sensation may occur throughout your hand. If your symptoms began recently, you may be awakened from sleep with numbness or pain, which may be relieved when you shake or rub your hand. In later stages, the numbness may become continuous.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
In most cases, your treatment will begin with non surgical approaches that may relieve your symptoms. Many patients get relief from simply modifying their activities to reduce pressure within the carpal tunnel, and wearing a wristlet to keep their wrist in a neutral position. A steroid injection may also be used to relieve symptoms. Taking medications by mouth, such as vitamin B6 or ministerial anti-inflammatory drugs, may be tried for some patients to relieve symptoms.
Your physician will perform a physical examination. Nerve conduction studies and electromyography (NCS/EMG) may be used to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the severity of your condition.
If the non surgical methods are unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended. The goals of surgery are to reduce pressure within the carpal tunnel to alleviate median nerve compression.