162010Aug

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition effecting the hand and fingers that appears to be the result of increased pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. It often results in the need for carpal tunnel hand surgeryconducted by the Florida Hand Center – a of Port Charlotte hand doctors.

The diagnosis of carpal tunnelis based on symptoms or what you feel in your hand and fingers. These symptoms include numbness and/or tingling, usually more on the thumb side of the hand. Sometimes there is pain in the hand or even the arm, and the symptoms are often worse at night. It can actually wake someone up from a sound sleep. Swelling of the fingers and hand, weakness or clumsiness can also be part of CTS.

Carpal tunnel syndrome has been linked with clerical or repetitive work although this association has recently come under fire because the vast majority of people who have CTS do not do any sort of repetitive work or hobby. There are a number of other conditions that are seen more commonly with CTS: diabetes, thyroid problems, obesity, and arthritis. These medical problems don’t cause CTS, but probably make the patient more likely to develop CTS.

The carpal tunnelsyndrome diagnosis can be confirmed by a physical examination performed by a medical professional, including a Port Charlotte hand doctor those at the Florida Hand Center. This examination is often combined with reviewing the results of a nerve test (or nerve conduction test). When the three components of the CTS work up are incorporated (symptoms, physical examination, and nerve testing), the diagnosis can be made with confidence.

Treatment for CTS is based on reducing the pressure on the median nerve leading to relief of the symptoms. Nonsurgical treatment is available, butcarpal tunnel hand surgeryis best optionfor complete treatment. In early or mild cases of CTS, the symptoms aren’t there all the time or even every day.

These patients may benefit from nonsurgical treatment such as a wrist brace worn at night. Improvement is defined by long periods  (a day or more) of symptom absence, not just symptom reduction. With carpal tunnelsymptom reduction, there is still pressure on the nerve, which can lead to nerve damage.

Unfortunately, the length of time the patient has experienced the symptoms or the severity of the symptoms experienced has not been found to be a reliable guide for the amount of pressure on the nerve.  As the pressure on the nerve persists, the periods of time where the hand feels normal will often decrease. In many cases the hand will have constant symptoms.

Many different treatments have been used for carpal tunnelsyndrome. Most have inconsistent results and have failed under rigorous study. The Cochrane group, an independent assembly of researchers, as well as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, have recently reviewed the treatments for CTS. Both groups came to essentially the same conclusion- that CTS can be treated in some early cases with a brace, but if not clearly successful, then surgery can be expected to work.

We have a special interest in carpal tunnel syndrome at Florida Hand Center – a group of Port Charlotte hand doctors. With our singular focus on the most efficient, state of the art diagnosis and treatment of hand problems, combined with the experience of seeing thousands of patients with CTS, this does not have to be a problem that a patient needs to tolerate.

Dr. Helgemo is the most experienced surgeon in Florida with endoscopic carpal tunnel hand surgery. This procedure is done in the comfort of an ambulatory surgery center, is completed in minutes, and allows immediate, pain-free use of your hand. Many patients are able to return to the day after carpal tunnel hand surgery.

One final note – if the symptoms of carpal tunnelsyndrome linger, this can lead to permanent nerve damage. If you think you may have CTS, we urge you to have a skilled evaluation by a Port Charlotte hand doctor at Florida Hand Center.  For additional information visit http://www.swfhand.com/education-center-carpal-tunnel.aspx.