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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common compressive neuropathy (pinched nerve) in the upper extremity.

INTEGRIS Hand and Microsurgery Clinic

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common compressive neuropathy (pinched nerve) in the upper extremity. The carpal tunnel is an area on the palm side of the wrist where the flexor tendons (they bend the fingers) and the median nerve pass from the forearm into the hand. CTS occurs when pressure builds up in this tunnel, compressing the nerve.

Pressure on the nerve can be caused by swelling of the lining of the flexor tendons (tenosynovitis), joint dislocations, fractures, arthritis or fluid retention. Thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can also be associated with CTS.

CTS signs and symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling mostly in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. These symptoms often happen at night. They can also occur during daily activities like driving or talking on the phone. Weak grip and occasional clumsiness can also be seen.

CTS is diagnosed with a detailed history and physical exam. Sometimes X-rays are taken. Electrodiagnostic testing is occasionally done to confirm the diagnosis or check for other nerve problems.

CTS may be relieved without surgery. Treatment options may include a wrist splint at night or during activities that aggravate the condition. A steroid injection into the carpal tunnel can also help.

When the CTS symptoms are severe or don’t improve, surgery may be needed to relieve pressure on the nerve. This is done by cutting the ligament that forms the top of the carpal tunnel on the palm side of the hand. After surgery, tenderness around the scar can last several weeks or months. The numbness and tingling in the hand or fingers may go away quickly or slowly – it may sometimes take up to a year. In severe cases where there has been permanent damage to the nerve, the symptoms may not completely go away after surgery.

Do I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Do you have persistent numbness and tingling in your hand and arm? You might have carpal tunnel syndrome, which is the most common compressive neuropathy in the upper extremity, otherwise known as a pinched nerve in your wrist.

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