Carpal tunnel syndrome
Treating carpal tunnel syndrome for long-lasting relief
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an uncomfortable hand and wrist condition that can make it hard to perform daily tasks like buttoning a shirt, writing or even holding a coffee cup. The carpal tunnel is a small space where the median nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. Swelling from an injury or an illness can cause the carpal tunnel to narrow, pinching the median nerve. This can cause numbness, pain, tingling and muscle weakness.
If carpal tunnel syndrome is causing you pain while you work, play or go about your daily routine, our hand specialists can help. At TRIA, our team is made of leading orthopedists, board-certified hand therapists, hand surgeons and other experts who treat hundreds of carpal tunnel cases a year.
We’re the only orthopedic practice in the Twin Cities that has an integrative medicine program to manage wrist and hand pain. And with other innovative treatments like hand therapy, orthobiologics and outpatient treatment, including carpal tunnel release, we’ll help you get long-term relief from wrist pain.
"I am so happy that I went to TRIA to get my carpal tunnel fixed. It was the best decision I could have made for me and my family. The care was outstanding and I would/have recommended it to family and friends. Thanks for making this go so smoothly."
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Each person will experience carpal tunnel syndrome differently, but here are some common carpal tunnel symptoms to watch for:
- Decreased sensation or numbness in the palm or fingers when doing certain activities like typing, holding a phone or brushing your hair
- Tingling, burning, pain or a feeling of “pins and needles” in the half of the palm closest to the thumb and index, middle and ring fingers
- Waking up at night due to numbness or pain in the hand or fingers
- Pain radiating from the forearm into the hand
- Decreased hand strength and mobility
- Feeling clumsy or dropping things
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be time to make an appointment with an orthopedic hand specialist.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Inflammation – the most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome – can cause swelling, which can make the carpal tunnel narrow, putting pressure on the median nerve. Inflammation is typically caused by another health condition like a wrist injury, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Many things can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, including how you position your wrist and hands while using the computer, prolonged or repetitive vibrations from using power tools, and repetitive movements of the wrist or fingers like playing the piano or knitting.
Overextending and overusing the wrist can make nerve compression or swelling worse. It’s also possible to have more narrow carpal tunnels naturally, which can make it more likely for the median nerve to become compressed.
Keep in mind that we don’t need to determine the specific cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome in order to treat it. Our expert hand specialists will use the most effective treatments based on your symptoms and lifestyle to help you recover.
Treating carpal tunnel syndrome
No matter how long you’ve struggled with carpal tunnel, our orthopedists can help. There are many different types of treatments that can relieve or even eliminate symptoms of carpal tunnel. Common treatments we use are:
A splint acts as a brace to support the joint and limit stress placed on it. This can help reduce swelling in the carpal tunnel and lessen pressure on the median nerve. Wearing a wrist splint at night can prevent the wrist from bending while sleeping. We might also recommend wearing a splint during repetitive daily activities, like typing or using tools. Our board-certified hand therapists can custom fit a splint for the affected wrist.
Corticosteroids are an anti-inflammatory medication that we may recommend as part of your treatment plan. The medication is injected into your wrist and should help reduce swelling around the median nerve, relieving pain and easing numbness.
Hand therapy programs can include a combination of targeted hand exercises, activity modification, ergonomics, patient education and other specialized treatments. We’ll teach you how to protect your wrist while typing, using power tools and doing other activities on a regular basis.
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Orthobiologic treatments can be used instead of surgery or in addition to surgery. While there are many different types of orthobiologic therapies, platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections are the most commonly used orthobiologic treatment.
Carpal tunnel release surgery
Some cases of carpal tunnel are best treated with carpal tunnel release surgery. This is a minimally invasive procedure and is one of the most common surgeries our hand surgeons perform.
During carpal tunnel release surgery, we’ll surgically divide the ligament that creates the carpal tunnel. This will make more room for the median nerve and relieve pressure.
Carpal tunnel release surgeries are outpatient procedures typically performed in our clinics. This means that you won’t go under general anesthesia and you can leave the clinic the same day. This is often more affordable and can save you a lot of time.
When you arrive, we’ll use local anesthetic to numb your hand and wrist so you’ll be comfortable during the procedure. Carpal tunnel release surgery usually takes no longer than 15 minutes, and most of our patients are finished with their appointment in about an hour.
Specialty treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome
We are the only orthopedic practice that has an integrative medicine program to manage hand and wrist pain. Integrative medicine uses holistic treatments that are scientifically proven to help reduce pain and promote healing, like acupuncture, massage, health education and others.
Integrative medicine can be used to complement your treatment program, or after carpal tunnel release surgery to help you recover.