Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. Another symptom includes an electrical shock-like feeling mostly in the thumb, index and long fingers. The condition occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand — the median nerve — is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist.
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are caused by a combination of factors. Studies show that women and older people are more likely to develop the condition.
Although it is a gradual process, for most people carpal tunnel syndrome will worsen over time without some form of treatment. For this reason, it is important to be evaluated and diagnosed by your doctor early on. In the early stages, it may be possible to slow or stop the progression of the disease.
If diagnosed and treated early, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can often be relieved without surgery. If your diagnosis is uncertain or if your symptoms are mild, your doctor will recommend nonsurgical treatment first.
Nonsurgical treatments may include:
- Bracing or splinting. Wearing a brace or splint at night will keep you from bending your wrist while you sleep. It may also help to wear a splint during the day when doing activities that aggravate your symptoms.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and inflammation.
- Activity changes. Symptoms often occur when your hand and wrist are in the same position for too long—particularly when your wrist is flexed or extended.
- Nerve gliding exercises. Some patients may benefit from exercises that help the median nerve move more freely within the confines of the carpal tunnel. Specific exercises may be recommended by your doctor or therapist.
- Steroid injections. Although these injections often relieve painful symptoms or help to calm a flare up of symptoms, their effect is sometimes only temporary. A cortisone injection may also be used by your doctor.
If pressure on the median nerve continues, however, it can lead to nerve damage and worsening symptoms. To prevent permanent damage, surgery to take pressure off the median nerve may be recommended for some patients.
Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release is a minimally invasive procedure performed to relieve pressure on the median nerve, alleviating the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome and restoring normal sensation to the hand and fingers. The endoscopic technique is performed on an outpatient basis, creates less pain and scarring than traditional open surgery and allows for quicker recovery.