Carpal tunnel syndrome causes tingling and pain in the thumb and hands. People may experience carpal tunnel syndrome when they use their hands frequently for repeated motion or movements that put heavy stress on the wrists.
Carpal tunnel syndrome results when the carpal tunnel – a passageway that carries nerves into the hands – becomes compressed. This tightening makes it hard for the nerves to work as they should.
In its early stages, it’s possible to treat carpal tunnel symptoms without surgery. If you do need carpal tunnel surgery, it’s good to know that Aurora Health Care was one of the first in the region to offer minimally invasive surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. This type of surgery offers less scarring and quicker recovery times – so you can feel better and get back to the things you love faster.
Aurora offers a wide range of carpal tunnel syndrome treatments that aren’t available everywhere, from minimally invasive surgery to specialized physical and occupational therapy.
People choose Aurora because we offer:
The most common carpal tunnel symptoms are numbness, tingling, burning or itching in the palm, fingers and thumb.
People also experience:
The carpal tunnel is a group of bones, ligaments and tendons located on the palm side of your wrist. Repetitive hand movements can cause the tendons in the wrist to swell. The swollen tendons squeeze the nerves in the region, leading to a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Learn more about nerve care.
Most people think of office workers when they think of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, people who work with their hands – assembly line workers, musicians and heavy laborers – also are at risk for carpal tunnel symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatoid pannus), diabetes and endocrinology conditions like hypothyroidism may raise the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Smoking raises the risk, too, because it can raise blood pressure, reduce blood flow and change the effects of medications. People who don’t smoke or smoke less have fewer complications from surgery.
Your doctor will do a medical exam and a few simple in-office tests to study the way your hand and wrist are working. It’s helpful if you can tell us how long you’ve had carpal tunnel symptoms and when they occur.
Most of the time, we diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome through a physical exam. We’ll order additional tests like X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if we need more information. These tests help us look for fractures, arthritis or other complications.
In some cases, we order electrodiagnostic tests like electromyography (EMG) to check your nerve pathways. These tests measure how nerve messages travel in your body.
Learn more about orthopedic diagnosis.
At Aurora, we provide a variety of treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. The first treatments are nonsurgical, but we provide advanced surgery, too. After assessing your condition, we’ll work with you to create a treatment plan.
As a first option, we’ll discuss nonsurgical carpal tunnel treatments. Some people feel better with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, changes in activity and heat or ice.
Other people benefit from treatments like:
About 500,000 people have carpal tunnel surgery – also called carpal tunnel release surgery – every year. That makes this type of surgery one of the most common hand operations in the United States.
Carpal tunnel surgery involves cutting a wrist ligament to relieve pressure on the nerve. Surgeons use one of two methods:
After the ligaments heal, they allow more space than before for nerve movement. Most people go back to work in a few weeks. Full recovery takes several months.
Hand therapy or other physical therapy after surgery can help you regain your hand strength. Learn more about orthopedic physical therapy.