Your definitive guide to carpal tunnel
Answers to the most frequently asked questions
about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Get your hands back!
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome, which is also known as median nerve compression, is a common condition that patients frequently ignore. If left untreated, it can result in irreversible damage.
It mainly affects patients over 50 and is four times more common in women than in men for both hormonal and anatomical reasons (women usually have smaller wrists).
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are easy to spot and generally get worse over time.
Do you have numbness or tingling in your fingers or palm?
Are your symptoms worse at night or when you first wake up?
Do you need to shake out your hands to make your symptoms go away?
Does your work involve vibrating tools or repetitive hand movements?
Do your hands hurt or feel like they’re burning?
Do your fingers feel swollen and clumsy?
Do you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome?
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The answers to
Nine frequently asked questions
The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are multiple and difficult to identify. Age, sex, hormonal disorders, particularly related to pregnancy and menopause, as well as certain chronic diseases, are considered the main risk factors. Professional occupation, sports activities and repetitive manual tasks can also promote the onset of the disease.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are typical and include swelling and then a sensation of numbness, mostly felt at night and on waking up. Tingling, burning sensations, pain, loss of sensitivity and loss of dexterity are other frequent signs. It is not uncommon for the disease to be bilateral, although often of unequal intensity.
Clinical examination and a description of symptoms by the patient are usually used to make a diagnosis. Various challenge tests can also be used to assess symptoms and measure the severity of the syndrome. Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction tests are sometimes recommended to assess the degree of nerve impairment and accurately localize the site of nerve compression.
A conservative treatment plan might include stretching and tendon gliding exercises, wearing splints or braces, avoiding certain positions, reducing repetitive movements, or cortisone shots. A healthy lifestyle and treating any chronic illnesses can help make it less likely you’ll develop carpal tunnel.
Cortisone injections into the carpal tunnel, when properly performed by a specialist, are not very painful and can temporarily improve symptoms. On the other hand, it is not advisable to repeat them because they can mask the symptoms of nerve compression which persists and thus, which are silently aggravated. There is then a danger of irreversible lesions appearing.
Recovery can vary depending on what kind of surgery you get. Patients who undergo endoscopic surgery recover and get back to their regular activities much faster than patients who undergo open carpal tunnel release. Endoscopic release only takes a few minutes with local anesthesia. Patients normally don’t even need stitches.
Two types of surgical procedures are offered to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. The conventional or “open” method of decompression consists of making a four-centimeter incision in the palm of the hand to cut the transverse ligament of the carpus and reduce the pressure on the median nerve. Endoscopic decompression allows the ligament to be cut selectively using miniaturized instruments and a mini-camera (endoscope) inserted through a 1 cm incision in the forearm. This last procedure is performed in a few minutes under local anesthesia and generally does not require a suture
Because decompression of the carpal tunnel, particularly the endoscopic method, requires precision expertise and advanced anatomical knowledge of the hand, it is best to turn to a hand surgeon. You should do your research, check the experience and references of the surgeon, and then make an appointment for an initial consultation. The chosen practitioner should inspire a sense of trust, demonstrate a good listening quality and be able to answer all your questions. It is also a good idea to be accompanied during your consultation in order to maximize understanding.
Lacertus syndrome often occurs at the same time as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). When this happens, the condition is called “double crush syndrome.” Lacertus syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the elbow under a sheet of ligamentous tissue called the lacertus fibrosus. Its symptoms are very similar to those of CTS, which can make it hard to diagnose. For optimal carpal tunnel release results, doctors should also look for and treat lacertus syndrome.