The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist. Small wrist bones known as carpals form the bottom and sides of the carpal tunnel and a strong band of connecting tissue, known as the transverse carpal ligament, covers the top of the carpal tunnel.
The carpel tunnel houses the flexor tendons, that allow you to bend your fingers, and the median nerve, which provides sensation to most of your fingers and hand.
Special tissues known as synovium surround and lubricate the flexor tendons in your wrist, allowing smooth movement of the fingers. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the synovium swells, narrowing the limited space within the tunnel, and pinches the median nerve over time. The transverse carpal ligament can also become tight causing narrowing of the carpal tunnel space and pressure on the median nerve.
Some of the common symptoms associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include
The following factors have been known to increase a person’s risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome:
Your doctor diagnoses carpel tunnel syndrome by performing a detailed medical history and physical examination. Further tests may be ordered including an X-ray to view your wrist bones, blood tests to rule out underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and thyroid problems, and electrodiagnostic testing to assess the speed and degree of electrical activity in your nerves and muscles.
Carpal tunnel can be treated with conservative measures or surgical intervention. Conservative treatment options may include treating any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis. Your hand and wrist may be immobilized with a splint or wrist brace for 4 to 6 weeks. Ice packs may be recommended to keep down any swelling. You may be advised to avoid activities that tend to bring on the symptoms. Medication and steroid injections may be used to treat pain and swelling. You may be referred to therapy to be taught strengthening and stretching exercises.
When conservative treatment options are not effective, surgery may be recommended.
Carpal Tunnel Release surgery is advised:
The surgery is performed by administering local anesthetic into the wrist and palm of your hand. You will be awake and may feel pressure, but will not feel any pain during the procedure.
The procedure usually takes about 20 minutes to complete.
Following surgery, your wrist will be wrapped in a bandage or splint for about a week. You will be prescribed pain medication to keep your comfortable.
Some common postoperative guidelines include:
You will be started on a physical therapy program where you will be instructed on special exercises to improve the movement of your hand and wrist.
Some of the potential complications of carpal tunnel release surgery include
Endoscopic carpel tunnel surgery has the following advantages when compared to traditional open carpel tunnel surgery:
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