Carpal tunnel syndrome is a well-known problem that affects the fingers, hands, wrists, and arms. It's estimated that 1 percent of the general population and 5 percent of the working population suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Patients throughout the greater Atlanta, GA area that suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome can rely on Dr. Steven Bailey at The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery for expert treatment that alleviates pain and helps restore the use of the hands and fingers.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the wrist. The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel from the forearm to the hand. When this nerve is compressed, it causes carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition results in numbness, tingling, and other problems associated with the movement of the fingers and hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome may be so serious that it also affects the wrists and forearms.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Some of the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Tingling in the fingers and hands
- Numbness in the fingers and hands
- Weakness in the fingers and hands
- Discomfort in the wrist
- Pain in the palm of the hand
- Tingling that travels from the fingers to the arm
The symptoms of carpal tunnel start gradually and get progressively worse over time. The initial symptoms typically affect the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. The little finger is usually not affected by carpal tunnel syndrome.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Repeated hand and wrist movements
- Repetitive hand stress and movement
- Wrist injuries
- Bone spurs in the wrist
- Rheumatoid arthritis
People who are obese, diabetic, or suffer from changes in the balance of body fluids run a greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Types of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are a few different types of carpal tunnel syndrome that may be diagnosed:
- Classic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This is the common type of carpal tunnel syndrome that most people experience, and it may be diagnosed in moderate to severe forms.
- Acute Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This type of carpal tunnel syndrome is commonly associated with trauma or physical injury that leads to serious problems with the wrists.
- Bilateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This refers to carpal tunnel syndrome that affects both hands. In most cases, the carpal tunnel syndrome of the patient's dominant hand will be worse than the off hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis
During a visit to our hand surgery practice, a number of tests will be performed to determine if a patient suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome or another condition. In addition to x-rays and a physical exam, a doctor can use an electromyogram to evaluate the muscles in the hands. Doctors may also consider a nerve conduction study to see if electrical impulses are slowed down in the carpal tunnel.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome will vary depending on the severity of the condition. In fact, surgery is usually not necessary if carpal tunnel syndrome is caught early. In these cases, patients may be asked to wear a wrist splint and use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help alleviate symptoms. Corticosteroid injections can also be used to help reduce inflammation.
For more serious cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, hand surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the median nerve. The nature of the surgery can vary from patient to patient depending on the severity and nature of the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Recovery after Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Following carpal tunnel surgery, patients will be asked to get ample rest and avoid strenuous physical activities. A heavy bandage or splint is worn for up to two weeks after surgery. When the splint is removed, patients will typically undergo physical rehabilitation to restore and improve hand strength and hand movement.
Contact The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome and the treatment options available.