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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment Options

  • Apr 26 2019

Is surgery always necessary for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Located at the base of the hand is a narrow tunnel, made up of bone and ligament, that houses the median nerve and a series of tendons, known as the flexor tendons. The median nerve is responsible for the feeling that is experienced by the thumb and all fingers except the pinkie. The tendons are what allow for all of the movement capabilities of the fingers and thumb. This passageway that provides protection for the median nerve and the flexor tendons is the carpal tunnel.

Most of us are aware of the existence of the carpal tunnel, because there has been so much reported about carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that develops when something causes the carpal tunnel to become constricted, resulting in some level of compression of the median nerve. When this happens, symptoms, such as tingling, numbness, weakness, burning or itching in the fingers and palm of the hand are likely to develop gradually.

Type and pattern of symptoms vary, although many people report that symptoms seem to intensify at night. Women are more susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome than men, possibly due to the carpal tunnel itself being smaller to begin with.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

While most people assume that carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the type of repetitive motion that is part of the job description of anyone who spends a good part of their day at a computer keyboard, the truth is that there are a wide variety of possible causes and contributors to this condition. Some of these include:

  • Work-related activities, such as:
  • Repetitive or forceful hand movements
  • Vibrations from machinery or some other source affecting the hands or arms for extended or recurring periods of time
  • The hand or wrist being maintained in an unnatural position for long periods of time, especially without the opportunity to rest or relax frequently
  • Some type of injury to the wrist
  • Glandular issues, particularly involving the pituitary and thyroid glands
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Tumor or cyst developing in the tunnel

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

With carpal tunnel syndrome it is important to catch it early and modify any contributing factors. When this is effective, suggested treatment will likely include some combination of the following non-surgical methods:

  • Splinting – wearing a wrist splint at night can reduce the inflammation
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – for pain management and to help reduce swelling
  • Ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injections – these types of injections have proven effective in counteracting the inflammation or swelling in the median nerve and tendons
  • Alternative therapies – yoga and acupuncture, in particular, are being successfully used in reducing symptoms

When non-surgical means do not provide sufficient relief, the most common types of surgical procedures for carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • Open release surgery – this involves an incision being made in the palm of the hand, cutting through the ligament that is putting the pressure on the nerve.
  • Endoscopic surgery – in this procedure, the surgeon is guided by a tiny camera (endoscope), inserted through one small incision, while repairs are made through a second small incision. This approach is believed to result in less trauma to the wrist and hand and requires a shorter recovery period.

If you have questions about carpal tunnel syndrome or any other orthopedic concerns, the physicians and staff of South Island Orthopedics of Long Island are very experienced in a wide range of orthopedic conditions and are committed to providing personalized care in a state-of-the-art facility. To schedule an appointment, or if you just have questions, please use our convenient online contact form by clicking here.

Posted in: Hand & Wrist