Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression of the median nerve that causes tingling, numbness, pain and/or weakness in the arm and upper extremities. The median nerve supplies sensation to the thumb, index, middle and, occasionally, the ring fingers, and also supports motor function in a muscle in the thumb. The carpal tunnel is a channel in the wrist through which the nerve passes from the arm through to the hand.
It occurs when there is increased pressure on the median nerve at the carpal tunnel. This pressure is frequently caused when the wrist is bent upward or downward for prolonged periods of time, such as while using a keyboard, mouse or other device. Symptoms get worse when there is increased pressure in the carpal tunnel.
The most common affects are neuropathies (numbness, tingling) and pain in wrist, hand and/or fingers. There may also be a feeling of weakness along the median nerve.
If your described symptoms suggest you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will do a physical exam, palpating your forearm in various ways to see if that causes you to experience neuropathies. To confirm a diagnosis, a specialized electrodiagnostic test called electromyelography (EMG) and/or soft tissue radiological imaging (musculoskeletal ultrasound, MR neurogaphy or an MRI) may be ordered.
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented by stopping or reducing an activity that stresses your fingers, hand, or wrist, or by changing the way in which you do that activity.
Conservative treatments include avoiding certain activities, splinting the wrists to keep them in a straight position, taking anti-inflammatory medications or injecting corticosteroids into the carpal tunnel. The surgery for this condition is to release the transverse carpal ligament (the roof of the carpal tunnel) to allow more room for the inflamed median nerve.
Carpal tunnel release is a minimally invasive surgery that can ease pain and increase mobility in your hands and wrists. But not all hospitals achieve the same results. Some are more reliable than others. With the help of the HSS Hospital Reliability Scorecard, you can make sure you're asking the critical questions to find the hospital that's right for you. Understanding the data points linked here will help you make the best decision for your care: See hospital reliability data
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