Dr. Paul Nielsen
Orthopaedic Hand and Upper Extremity Surgeon
Date: November 11, 2019
What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Numbness or tingling in the hand is the most common symptom
- Many patients notice the symptoms at night, while driving, and with heavy use
- Some patients notice weakness in their hand
- Pain or tightness into the fingers or wrist can also occur
- The thumb, index, and middle fingers are the most commonly affected
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- The median nerve is compressed or “pinched” as it passes through a tight area at the wrist into the palm
- This nerve gives feeling to the thumb, index, middle and part of the ring fingers
- Sleeping with the wrist bent often pinches the nerve, causing night-time symptoms
- Swelling, scar tissue, inflammation and injuries can compress the nerve and cause symptoms
What Are the Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Wrist braces or splints can be worn at night to keep the wrist straight to avoid compressing the nerve
- NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or meloxicam can help with pain and swelling
- Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel can help temporarily but are not a long-term solution
- Surgery can include a carpal tunnel release to take the pressure off the nerve
- This can be performed as a traditional open surgery, minimally invasive mini-open surgery, or minimally invasive with a scope (endoscopic)
- Often the surgery can be performed with just local anesthesia in about 10 minutes
What Is Recovery Like After Surgery?
- Patients normally are in a soft dressing for a few days after surgery
- Sutures are removed 10-14 days after surgery
- Light use of the hand is encouraged immediately after surgery
- Heavy use of the hand is allowed about a month after surgery
- Hand therapy is usually not required
- Most patients regain normal feeling and function of their hand quickly
- It is uncommon for patients to require a re-do surgery
Suspect you may have carpal tunnel syndrome? Make an appointment by calling New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery at (308) 865-2570. No referral required.
About the Author
Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand & upper extremity surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, Nebraska