Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common reasons patients visit a hand orthopedic specialist. We talked with CU Medicine hand surgeon Dr. Andrew Federer about carpal tunnel syndrome and how the common condition is treated.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of compressive neuropathy where the median nerve becomes compressed at the wrist. This results in symptoms such as pain, numbness and tingling in the hand or fingers. “Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common reasons a patient would come see us here in clinic,” explains Dr. Andrew Federer, a CU Medicine hand and upper extremity orthopedic surgeon.

The carpal tunnel is located at the wrist on the palm side of the hand. This area is narrow and surrounded by bones and ligaments. When compression happens in the carpal tunnel, one of the most notable complaints by patients is waking at night with numbness in the hand. Dr. Federer reports, “patients often complain of waking at night and feeling like they need to shake out their hand or wrist.”

Conservative methods like splinting of the wrist and steroid injections are the first line treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome. When conservative options fail, hand orthopedic specialists usually recommend carpal tunnel release surgery. “Carpal tunnel release surgery is the most common surgery a hand surgeon performs, and patients often do fairly well with the procedure,” added Dr. Federer.

Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome after surgery is exceedingly rare and often takes over 10 years to present for patients. When carpal tunnel syndrome returns after conservative treatments, surgery could be necessary to prevent recurrence of the troublesome condition.



Carpal tunnel syndrome causes

The median nerve innervates the muscles on the palm side of the hand. It affects the thumb, index finger, middle finger and the inside part of the ring finder. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by making repetitive motions with the hands such as operating machinery. Sometimes the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown.

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms

The symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • Pain in the hand, wrist and/or fingers
  • Numbness and tingling in the hand, wrist and/or fingers
  • Weakness in the hands due to numbness


Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is treated in many ways. Treatment depends on factors such as the known cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, and if past interventions have worked. Treatments of carpal tunnel syndrome are:

Non-surgical treatments

  • Wrist splinting
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Limiting use of hand/wrist
  • Treating rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory arthritis

Surgical treatments

  • Endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery
  • Open carpal tunnel release surgery

Help is available for those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Pain, weakness and waking at night from numb fingers does not have to be the norm. Being seen by an orthopedic hand surgeon as soon as symptoms present can keep the condition from worsening. Book an appointment with one of CU Medicine’s  board certified hand, wrist and elbow specialists across many convenient locations.




TAGS: cancer treatment, carpal tunnel, carpal tunnel release surgery, carpal tunnel syndrom, CU Medicine, Hand Surgery, orthopedic surgery, orthopedics

CATEGORIES: Conditions and Diseases, Health Education, Surgery

This post was originally posted on 1/20/2023