Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition involving primarily the hands. If you have this condition, you experience numbness and tingling in your hands, especially your thumb, index, and middle fingers. You may be awakened at night when your hand feels “asleep,” and you may often have to shake your hands vigorously to restore the circulation and feeling. As the condition progresses, you can develop numbness and tingling of your hands during normal, daily activities. You may also notice some weakness in your hands and difficulty with fine control of your fingers.

This condition most commonly is the result of repetitive hand movements. People who use computer keyboards and do a lot of typing or data entry will commonly develop this condition. Also, patients who frequently use hand tools, such as mechanics, carpenters, or plumbers, often develop this problem.

Treatment options include resting your hands, wearing a hand or wrist splint, as well as vitamin B6 therapy. These treatments will often provide temporary relief of the symptoms. If the symptoms progress, however, or are not relieved with these measures, carpal tunnel surgery may be required. An electromyogram (EMG)-nerve conduction velocity study is needed to confirm this diagnosis. In carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve is compressed at your wrist by thickening of the carpal ligament. An incision is made in the palm of your hand, and the compressive ligaments in the hand are surgically divided. This relieves the pressure on the nerve. This procedure is performed as an outpatient operation while you are under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation, when necessary. For most patients, symptoms are dramatically improved following surgery.


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