What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain or a tingling and numbing sensation in your hand. This discomfort is caused by pressure being put on your median nerve. This nerve runs from the hand, all the way up the arm and passes through an opening called the carpal tunnel; hence the name carpal tunnel syndrome. This nerve carries sensation from outer 3 digits of your hands, controls the movement of the thumb and all fingers except the pinky. When there is swelling within the carpal tunnel, painful symptoms may arise.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
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.
Other risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- This is likely an important factor. The carpal tunnel may be smaller in some people or there may be anatomic differences that change the amount of space for the nerve—and these traits can run in families.
- Repetitive hand use.Repeating the same hand and wrist motions or activities over a prolonged period of time may aggravate the tendons in the wrist, causing swelling that puts pressure on the nerve.
- Hand and wrist position.Doing activities that involve extreme flexion or extension of the hand and wrist for a prolonged period of time can increase pressure on the nerve.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling.
- Health conditions.Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalance are conditions that are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
If your case of carpal tunnel syndrome does not respond to non surgical options such as bracing or anti-inflammatory medications, you may need surgery. After you have had your initial consultation with Dr. Fichadia, she will then decide if you are in need of carpal tunnel release surgery and which type she will decide to use. There are two ways of doing carpal tunnel release – open technique and endoscopic (minimally invasive) technique. Both techniques have similar outcomes at one year. The benefit of using an endoscopic technique is that it is less invasive with a faster recovery period. During this endoscopic surgery, Dr. Fichadia will cut or “release” the transverse carpal ligament. This eliminates the pressure on the median nerve and therefore relieves the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Results and Recovery
When using an endoscopic technique, patients are typically able to return to desk jobs in about 1-2 weeks. Full strength and heavy gripping may take longer, about 4-6 weeks to return.
If you are having difficulty with the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, call Dr. Fichadia’s office today to schedule a consultation. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have!