CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME is a common condition caused by a pinched nerve at the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a passageway through the wrist carrying tendons and a major nerve (the median nerve). Pressure can build up within the tunnel from disease, injury, pregnancy or overuse.
Pressure on the nerve in the carpal tunnel causes a tingling sensation in your hand, as well as numbness (especially of the thumb, index, and middle fingers), aching, and limited hand function. Doctors use Phalen’s Test, or wrist-flexion test, to test for the condition. You press the backs of your wrists together with your fingers facing down; if you feel tingling or numbness in your fingers within one minute, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Splinting your hand or using anti-inflammatory medications can provide relief, especially at night. Typically, however, these options don’t provide a lasting cure. If carpal tunnel issues are caused by another disease, like diabetes or thyroid disease, treating those diseases may provide relief.
Surgery and recovery
When non-surgical approaches no longer work, it may be time for surgery. Through a short incision, Dr. Harris divides the ligament and releases the pressure on the median nerve. Most patients experience immediate relief from their pain and numbness.
This operation is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia and takes less than an hour. Sutures remain for two weeks, and you may wear a splint while your incision heals. Most people are back to work in one or two weeks.