Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a problem that effects the wrist and hand. If you have CTS, tingling and numbness can make even simple tasks hard to do. But CTS can be treated, and your symptoms can be controlled. Reading this booklet will help you better understand what CTS is. You’ll learn how treatment can help.

The Symptoms of CTS

Tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of CTS. Some people also have hand pain or even a weakened grip. At first, symptoms may wake you up at night. Later, they may also occur during your daily routines. For instance, you may notice symptoms while you are driving, or holding a newspaper. Your symptoms may become more severe over time.

Working with Your Doctor

Your doctor will perform an exam to learn more about your symptoms. Once your problem is diagnosed, you and your doctor can make a treatment plan. He or she can help you learn about symptom relief and surgery. If you have surgery, you are likely to go home the same day.

Diagnosis and Early Treatment of CTS

To help your diagnosis, tell the doctor all the symptoms you’ve noticed. To confirm a CTS problem, you may have certain tests. Depending on the results, your doctor may suggest that you take medication or wear a splint.

Your Examination

The doctor will want you to describe your symptoms. You may be asked questions like: Do you have any numbness or pain? When do you notice symptoms? During the exam, your hand and wrist will be checked. This my involve holding your hand in certain positions. The doctor may also check the median nerve.

Tests You May Have

Your doctor may order tests to confirm CTS and rule out other problems. The test results can also be used to plan surgery, if needed.

Other Tests

You may also have a nerve conduction test and an electromyogram (EMG). These tests use low levels of electric current to reveal how nerves and muscles are working.

Taking Medication

At first, your doctor may suggest taking aspirin or ibuprofen. This can help reduce pain and swelling. But if you need to use either of these medications each day, call your doctor. He or she may want to try a prescription medication instead.

Cortisone Injection

Cortisone can greatly reduce inflammation. When used to treat CTS, it is given my injection. You may feel some soreness for 24 to 48 hours follow the injection. But after that, you’re likely to have symptom relief for many weeks.

Wearing a Splint

Wearing a splint, either at bedtime or during the day, may help reduce your symptoms. A splint works by keeping the wrist in a neutral (straight) position. This prevents extreme movement that may narrow the carpal tunnel. Be sure to use the type of splint suggested by your doctor.