Carpal tunnel is a very common condition in which a nerve becomes squeezed within an anatomic tunnel in the front of the wrist. Symptoms can vary but typically, there is some combination of pain in the wrist and palm. The pain occasionally radiates up the forearm, and numbness or tingling in the thumb and fingers usually sparing the small finger occurs. You may also experience a weakness or difficulty grasping objects. Symptoms usually start being intermittent occurring at night or with certain activities, but often progress to being constant. In severe cases, permanent damage can occur to the nerve resulting in a permanent loss of sensation and/or strength.
Diagnosis is made by reviewing the patient’s history and conducting an examination and sometimes may involve a nerve study performed by a neurologist who will test the strength of the nerve and the severity of the carpal tunnel syndrome
Initial treatment usually involves wearing braces on the wrist overnight to try and “rest” the nerve. If the braces are ineffective or the syndrome is severe, carpal tunnel surgery is recommended to relieve the symptoms and prevent progressive nerve damage. Carpal tunnel surgery is an outpatient surgery, done under a local anesthetic and sedation. Recovery can be 1-3 months before normal use of the hand.