What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

In effect, carpal tunnel syndrome is a pinched nerve. There is a space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the pressure builds up from swelling in this tunnel, putting pressure on the nerve. When the pressure from the swelling becomes great enough to disturb the way the nerve works, numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the arm, hand, and fingers. 

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What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

In most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, the cause is not fully known. What is known is that pressure on the nerve can occur in several ways:

  • Joint dislocations 
  • Fractures
  • Keeping the wrist bent for long periods of time 
  • Arthritis 
  • Swelling of the lining of the flexor tendons (called tenosynovitis)

Fluid retention during pregnancy can cause swelling in the tunnel and may lead to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which often fade once the child is born. Thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes may also be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. There may be a combination of causes.

Signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually include pain, numbness, tingling, or a combination of the three. The numbness or tingling most often occurs in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. The symptoms are typically felt during the night but may be noticed during daily activities such as driving or reading a newspaper. You may notice a weaker grip, occasional clumsiness, and a tendency to drop things. In severe cases, sensation may be lost completely, and the muscles at the base of the thumb slowly shrink (known as thenar atrophy), resulting in decreased grip and pinch strength.

Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome on Long Island

Symptoms may often be relieved without surgery. Our surgeon will devise a treatment plan that is personally customized to treat your unique condition. Identifying and treating medical conditions, changing the patterns of hand use, or keeping the wrist splinted in a straight position may help reduce pressure on the nerve. Wearing wrist splints at night may relieve the symptoms that interfere with sleep. A steroid injection into the carpal tunnel may help relieve the symptoms by reducing swelling around the nerve. 

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Diagnosing Your Issues

During your initial consultation, you and our surgeon will go over all the information needed to help treat your condition. A detailed history, including medical conditions, how the hands have been used, and details of any prior injuries, is important. An X-ray may be taken to check for any other causes of your complaints, such as arthritis or a fracture. Laboratory tests may be done if a medical condition associated with CTS is suspected. A nerve conduction study (NCV) or electromyogram (EMG) may be done to confirm the diagnosis of CTS and to check for other possible nerve problems.

Will I need surgery?

When symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be necessary to create more room for the nerve. Pressure on the nerve is decreased by cutting the ligament that forms the roof (top) of the tunnel on the palm side of the hand. Incisions for this surgery may vary, but the goal is the same: to enlarge the tunnel and decrease pressure on the nerve. 

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How long is the recovery time?

Following surgery, soreness around the incision may last for several weeks or months. The numbness and tingling may disappear quickly or slowly. It may take several months for the strength in your hand and wrist to return to normal. You should expect to experience pain relief, improved sensation, and better sleep once you have recovered from your procedure. We will be monitoring your progress and helping you understand what to expect during your recovery. 

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The Precision Medical Arts experience

We are here to provide a pleasant surgery practice where you can relax and feel confident that you are in the most competent hands. Our surgeons have all of the needed experience, training, and expertise to help you achieve your goals. We will take care of you every step of the way, making sure you are well-informed, comfortable, and happy. We use enhanced recovery protocols, guiding you through the recovery process to make it as smooth and rapid as possible. 

Schedule a Consultation

The first step in your journey is a private consultation with us at Precision Medical Arts. You can expect our professionals to listen closely to your concerns, and to work with you individually at every step to ensure you are delighted with your results, and enjoying a happier, more confident life.

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