Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: An Overview

1
Pinching of the Median Nerve

Hands of Chiropractic Doctor Testing Patient for Carpal Tunnel
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that pinches a nerve in the wrist. The median nerve travels from the spinal cord to the finger tips. In the wrist, the median nerve passes underneath a ligament along with the flexor tendons of the fingers. The ligament that surrounds the median nerve and the finger tendons form the carpal tunnel.

In some people, this carpal tunnel becomes crowded, and the median nerve gets pinched. When the median nerve is pinched, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can result.

2
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel

carpal tunnel hand numbness tingling
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When the median nerve is pinched in carpal tunnel syndrome, the typical symptoms of this condition may result. These symptoms of carpal tunnel include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

The symptoms of carpal tunnel occur in a very specific pattern. The reason is that the median nerve supplies sensation to a specific part of the hand and fingers.

3
Initial Treatment with Night Splints

wrist splint brace
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In most patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, initial treatment is usually simple. The first options used for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome typically include anti-inflammatory medications and wrist splints. It is recommended that a wrist splint be worn at night while sleeping. While sleeping, people often hold their wrists in a position that allows the median nerve to become pinched. The night splint holds the nerve in a relaxed position.​

Some doctors may recommend the use of a cortisone injection for the treatment of carpal tunnel before surgical treatment is considered. The cortisone injection is often a temporary solution, but it may lead to lasting relief of symptoms.

4
Incision for Carpal Tunnel Surgery

carpal tunnel hand incision surgery
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If patients have persistent symptoms despite simple, conservative treatments of carpal tunnel, surgical treatment may be recommended. In order to make more room for the pinched median nerve, an incision is made directly over the carpal tunnel.

5
Release of the Median Nerve for Carpal Tunnel

carpal tunnel release surgery operation
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When surgery is required for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, the surgeon creates more room for the median nerve. Once the surgeon has made an incision over the carpal tunnel, the tight transverse carpal ligament is identified.

The ligament is cut with care to protect the median nerve (shown here in yellow) which sits directly beneath it. Once the transverse carpal ligament is completely cut, your surgeon will be looking directly at the median nerve. Care is taken to ensure the ligament is completely cut and the nerve is free from compression.

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