Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of bones and ligaments located at the base of your hand. Passing through this “tunnel” are tendons that connect the muscles in your forearm with your hand, and a nerve called the median nerve. Pressure on the median nerve may cause what is known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Pain, numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers which radiates up the arm to the elbow
- Pain and/or numbness that interrupts sleep
- Hand weakness
- Difficulty gripping objects in the hand
- Dropping objects
- Difficulty making a fist
Carpal tunnel syndrome is most common in people over the age of 40, and middle-aged women are more likely to suffer from it than men. Although there is no identifiable cause for the condition in many people, you may be at greater risk if you have arthritis, diabetes or thyroid problems, or engage in repetitive motions with your hands throughout the day, such as at a computer or working as a carpenter or auto mechanic.
A hand subspecialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will diagnose whether or not you have carpal tunnel syndrome by inspecting the strength in your hand and fingers, evaluating the nerve function, and evaluating the range of motion of your wrist. He or she may also suggest electro-diagnostic studies, such as an EMG or nerve conduction study, to confirm the diagnosis.
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome respond well to nonsurgical treatment, and you may get some relief simply by shaking your hand or resting it for longer periods. Your physician may recommend non-prescription pain relievers to reduce pain and inflammation. Some patients respond well to injections of steroid medication, and others may need surgical treatment.