Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jocelyn Idema frequently encounters in her busy Pennsylvania practice, Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center.
Dr. Idema shares information about CTS, the symptoms it causes, and an in-office surgical procedure that can resolve the pain and dysfunction related to this painful nerve injury in just one visit.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow opening in your wrist that’s surrounded by bones and provides passage for the ligaments and tendons that allow you to bend and straighten your fingers and thumb.
The median nerve, which communicates with your brain regarding sensation and motor function (movement) in the palm and fingers, also squeezes through this relatively small space.
CTS can develop as a result of activity, injury, or a medical condition that causes the various tissue structures sharing the carpal tunnel to compress and irritate the median nerve. This leads to an altered sensation and nerve pain.
CTS can affect one or both hands and is often linked to repetitive use of your hands and fingers during activities such as knitting, keyboarding, or sports that require you to grip a racquet or ball.
Medical conditions that cause nerve damage and dysfunction, such as diabetes, also increase your risk of developing CTS.
The signs and symptoms of CTS are often subtle initially and worsen as the condition advances. These include:
Because the median nerve controls movement and sensation in the palm, thumb, middle, index, and a portion of the ring finger, CTS symptoms are most prominent in these areas. Other conditions that cause pain in the wrist or hand, such as arthritis, are more localized to the involved joint(s).
Early CTS symptoms often include a “pins and needles” sensation that may resolve when you shake your hands vigorously.
The tingling and numbness often occur at night if you sleep with your wrists curled and typically become more persistent as the condition advances. You may eventually notice decreased sensation in your fingertips and a general sense of numbness along the sides of your fingers.
The throbbing and burning pain associated with CTS is often felt in the affected wrist, forearm, and hand. It may initially increase with activity, but can occur even at rest as the nerve irritation and inflammation worsen.
You may notice increased clumsiness with CTS that can make it hard to hold onto a coffee cup, tablet, or phone. This is related to decreased muscle tone and can eventually cause difficulty with writing, gripping a steering wheel, and other routine tasks involving your hands.
Many individuals with CTS note that actions such as buttoning a shirt or closing a clasp on a necklace become nearly impossible due to stiffness and loss of dexterity in their fingers and thumbs.
CTS may respond well to conservative therapies such as activity restrictions, icing, and use of splints that help keep the wrists straight as you use a keyboard, paintbrush, etc.
When conservative measures fail, surgery is often your best treatment option for CTS. Dr. Idema specializes in micro-invasive carpal tunnel release surgery, which requires only very small puncture-type incisions to access the treatment site.
Performed via advanced endoscopic technology, compared to traditional surgery, the procedure:
Most individuals who undergo this innovative, in-office surgery experience immediate relief from their CTS symptoms.
Don’t let pain control your life. For more information about CTS treatment or any of the other services we provide at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, schedule an evaluation with Dr. Idema today.