Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is it?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist made up of bones and ligaments. The median nerve, which controls sensation and movement in the thumb and first three fingers, runs through this passageway along with tendons to the fingers and thumb. When it’s pinched or compressed, the result is numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the hand, called carpal tunnel syndrome.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis of CTS begins with patient history. Typical symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain of the hand and fingers. Several work related factors may contribute to development of carpal tunnel syndrome such as typing, sewing, playing musical instruments, meat and fish packing. Women are much more likely to develop CTS, and the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy is very high. Physical Exam may elicit several positive tests to further lead to a diagnosis of CTS. Electrodiagnostic tests, also known as EMG or nerve conduction studies, can confirm a diagnosis of CTS.

When is surgery indicated for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

If you have failed conservative measures such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, bracing in immobilization splint or steroid injections, surgical release of the carpal tunnel may be indicated.