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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Are you experiencing numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand?  Carpal tunnel syndrome is a median nerve compression that causes slower nerve impulses in your hand. This reaction happens because of pressure put on your hand’s nerves. Your hand’s nerves run the length of your arm, through a passage in your wrist, and lead into your hand. The “carpal tunnel” is the passage connecting your wrist to your hand. This controls the movement on your hands as well as the movement of your fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by repetitive motions in your wrist such as typing, pregnancy, or conditions such as obesity, hypothyroidism, arthritis, or diabetes.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel?

One common telling sign of carpal tunnel is when your fingers “fall asleep” at night and become numb. This can happen when you hold your hands while you are sleeping. However, in the morning, you may experience tingling and numbness in your hands that can run up to your shoulder. In addition, symptoms might flare up during the day when you are holding an item. Unfortunately, as carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse, you may experience loss of strength in gripping items, pain, and muscle cramping.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel include…

  • A tingling feeling that moves up your arm
  • Burning, itching, numbness, or tingling in your thumb, palm, index finger, or middle finger
  • Trouble holding items and weakness in your hand
  • Shock-like feelings in your fingers when you move them
  • Decrease in feeling in your fingers
  • Loss of strength and coordination, specifically in your thumb

How to treat carpal tunnel syndrome?

Depending on your symptoms and the degree of your condition, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated by lifestyle changes, exercises, medication, immobilization, and surgery. Lifestyle changes include taking breaks from repetitive movements and activity that is causing pain to your hand. Strength moves and stretching can help for better mobility of nerves in your carpal tunnel. Your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids to help with the swelling and pain. Immobilization is when your wrist is put into a splint to help lessen the nerve pressure on your hands. This can also help with the tinging feelings and numbness. Lastly, if none of the above treatments work, your doctor will recommend surgery to ease the pressure off your carpal tunnel in your wrist.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend talking to your doctor. Your doctor will likely take imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI exams or ultrasounds to see the bones and tissue in your hand. In addition, your doctor may take an electromyogram that measures the muscle electrical activity and take nerve conduction exams.

If you are considering reaching out regarding carpal tunnel syndrome, contact the Surgery Center of Fort Collins for more information. We do provide these services to our patients, and it is often more affordable and less stressful to have it done at our ambulatory surgery center as opposed to a hospital setting. Call 970-821-8634 for more information or to schedule an appointment.