Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the main nerve located on the palmar aspect of the wrist (palm side of wrist). The carpal tunnel protects the main nerve to your hand as well as the tendons responsible for the bending of your fingers. When nerve compression occurs, it produces numbness, pain and, eventually, hand weakness that characterizes carpal tunnel syndrome.
Fortunately, prognosis is good for most patients with a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. The treatment goal is to prevent nerve damage and to allow the patient to return to normal function and activities of daily living.
I am a full-time medical transcriptionist. I have been in this profession for about 11 years, and I truly enjoy my job. I put in about 7 hours and sometimes more of uninterrupted typing time five days a week. With that being said, it came as no surprise when I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome about six months ago. I presented to my orthopedic surgeon with symptoms of pins and needles in my hands and fingers which woke me during the night, hand weakness with opening jars, dropping things and stiff fingers when I woke up in the morning. After my orthopedic surgeon gathered my history of symptoms, performed a physical exam and a nerve conduction study, he had all the information needed to diagnose me with carpal tunnel syndrome. I have opted for nonsurgical management as my symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are not as severe as they are annoying.
I am currently being treated with a splint while typing or during more strenuous activities involving my hands and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which I have found to be very effective.
There are many treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome. These options will depend on the severity of your symptoms and your orthopedist will be able to determine which option(s) are best for you.
Treatment options include:
– Changing or avoiding activities that may be causing symptoms and wearing a wrist splint.
– Physical therapy/Occupational therapy: Includes ultrasound, range of motion exercises and stretching.
– Medications: Include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for reduction of inflammation and pain relief. Corticosteroid injections into the carpal tunnel may be recommended and considered.
– Surgery: Surgery can be recommended if you have nerve damage, are at risk for nerve damage and/or if carpal tunnel syndrome has been present for a lengthy period of time.