Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition of the hand and wrist that can create discomfort, weakness, numbness, or difficulty in moving the thumb and forefingers. While it can also be easily overcome with treatment, seeking help early typically makes a big difference. Samer Alnajjar, MD, at LA Orthopaedic Specialists excels at identifying and treating even the most severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. For more information, call the Downtown Los Angeles, California, office or book an appointment online today.

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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects an estimated 3-6% of adults in the United States, can cause numbness, stiffness, pain, or other symptoms in your wrist or hand. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel in your wrist and into your hand, is pinched. 

How do I recognize the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Most people’s symptoms come on slowly and then build over time. You may first notice a numbness that comes and goes in your thumb and forefingers. 

You may feel the need to “shake out” this sensation, but over time it may become a constant feeling. Sometimes it may feel more like a small electric shock than a tingling.

You may notice that your affected hand has become much weaker or clumsier and that you are dropping things more often. This is due to the effect that prolonged numbness can have on the pinching muscle in your thumb.

Finally, you may feel pain or discomfort in your wrist itself, or a “pins and needles” feeling.

How did I get carpal tunnel syndrome?

Because the symptoms typically build up gradually, people often aren’t sure what’s causing their carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.

Repetitive motions are most often to blame. Actions like typing, or any motion of the wrist you may do over and over, especially at work, can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. 

It can also be a symptom of a larger problem, like hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes. Pregnant women may also experience carpal tunnel syndrome.

People who have wrist pain may be misdiagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. 

What are the treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome?

The quicker you get your diagnosis and begin treatment, the faster you can expect to make a full recovery. 

LA Orthopaedic Specialists use an electrodiagnostic test (nerve conduction study) that measures the speed of nerve impulses through the nerve. If the nerve is compressed, the velocity of the signals decreases proportionately with how severe the compression is. 

Usually, If you have mild compression, your provider suggests some anti-inflammatory pain medication or steroid, or a splint to immobilize your wrist. 

Over time, this helps most people get past their discomfort, but if medication, physical therapy, and rest don’t prove effective, surgical options are available. With moderate to severe compression, your provider may suggest carpal tunnel release.

If you’re living with carpal tunnel syndrome, call the LA Orthopaedic Specialists or book an appointment online today.