Carpal Tunnel Syndrome FAQs

In this article, top Detroit area hand doctor Dr. Rehman answers your frequently asked questions about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that can cause pain, tingling and numbness in the hand and arm when the median nerve becomes compressed as it travels through the wrist.

The median nerve is one of the major nerves to the hand and runs along the forearm. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway about an inch wide comprised of bones and ligaments at the base of the hand.  This rigid enclosure surrounds the median nerve as well as the tendons that allow the fingers to bend.

The median nerve provides feeling in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers and controls the muscles at the base of the thumb. CTS occurs when the tunnel narrows, either from thickening of the lining or swelling of surrounding tissues, which causes compression of the median nerve.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

The symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may begin gradually and include burning and tingling sensations or a numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers, as well as the palm of the hand.

CTS sufferers may notice that their fingers fall asleep or go numb at night. This often happens while sleeping, because the hand is in a relaxed position or the wrist is flexed while laying down.

Some patients report that their fingers feel swollen, even though swelling may not be visible. CTS can cause a tendency to drop things attributed to weakening of the thumb’s pinching muscles, which are controlled by the median nerve.

If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to weakness in the fingers and thumb, and a lack of coordination that can make it difficult to grasp small objects or execute other manual activities.

What causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?

While anything that puts pressure on, or irritates, the median nerve can cause carpal tunnel syndrome it is often the result of a combination of factors.

Trauma to the wrist, such as a fracture or dislocation, or arthritis that may deform smaller bones in the wrist can alter the space within the carpal tunnel and put pressure on the median nerve.

Obesity, diabetes, pregnancy and thyroid disorder may also increase the risk for Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Often, a single cause cannot be identified. However it is thought that repetitive motion that flexes the wrist and repeated use of tools or equipment that cause vibration may be contributing factors.

How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?

It is important to begin treatment carpal tunnel syndrome under a doctor’s care as early as possible and any underlying causes treated initially.

Non-surgical treatments and medications may provide short term relief, however they do not treat the condition. Altering or eliminating activities that can aggravate CTS is helpful. Physical therapy and yoga may also alleviate symptoms and improve grip strength.

In more advanced cases surgery may be required. Carpal tunnel release is one of the most common surgical procedures in the country and involves severing a ligament around the wrist to reduce pressure on the median nerve.

Top Detroit Area Hand Doctor

If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingers, wrist, elbow or arm, contact board certified Detroit area hand surgeon Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to combat the effects of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition.

Detroit Area Hand Doctor: 248.940.5233