Until about 75 years ago carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, was thought to be caused by the compression of structures in the frontal portion of the neck or from a network of nerves from the spinal cord, over the first rib, and into the armpit. Today we recognize this condition of CTS as a compression of the median nerve travelling through the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a tiny passageway on the palm side of the wrist.
The cause of CTS continues to be a subject of debate. Typically, the common age range of patients with CTS is between 45 and 60 years of age. CTS is less common in people under 30 years of age. Untreated, CTS can lead to lack of coordination between the fingers and thumb along with weakness in the hand.
What are the most common symptoms in patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Hands get numb, fall asleep
- Loss of grip, dropping items
- Feeling of tightness or swelling
When might an individual most notice these symptoms?
- Driving, painting, knitting, typing, writing
- Waking during the middle of sleep with wrist pain, usually the dominant hand
- Temperature changes, sensitivity to cold
How is CTS diagnosed?
A physician can typically diagnose CTS with a patient history, physical exam (usually focusing on the median nerve running from the forearm into the hand), x-ray, and possibly a nerve conduction study.
What are some home remedy treatments for relieving CTS?
- Night wrist splints
- Gentle shaking of the hand/wrist
- Immerse the hand in warm water and gently flex
If home remedies do not provide relief, it may be time to see an orthopedic physician who specializes in treatment of the hand and wrist. Hand therapy may be recommended with a Certified Hand Therapist. An anti-inflammatory (NSAID) may provide some relief. Cortisone injections may provide a temporary reprieve of discomfort. If conservative methods do not provide relief, minimally invasive surgery to remove a band of tissue in the wrist should provide relief.
CTS is a common condition treated at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates by our orthopedic specialists and hand therapists. SOA offers same/next day appointments when needed at each of our three locations. The commitment of SOA is to get our patients back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life.
Source: MedScape 3/22/16, CTS Quiz; WebMD; Cleveland Clinic; AAOOS