While it may be amusing to say the carpal tunnel is the place New Jersey Governor Chris Christie closed to get back at some recalcitrant mayor whose city relied on the tunnel, it’s actually home to a painful condition that requires treatment, possibly surgery by the surgeons at Texas Neurosurgery.
What is the carpal tunnel and what happens to it?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow, fibrous passage in the wrist that protects the median nerve, which controls movement and sensation in the hand and thumb, index and middle fingers. If you’re feeling numbness, tingling, or weakness in your fingers, it may be carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is irritated by pressure. This can come from swelling or a change in tissue position that causes the carpal tunnel to squeeze and compress the nerve. The condition spreads gradually, usually beginning as an ache in the wrist. As it develops, tingling and numbness can move into the entire arm. Some people also begin to have weakness in the hand and arm when grasping small objects. One thing to note — it does not affect the pinky, just the thumb and three other fingers of each hand.
Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome
Women are three times more likely than men to get the condition. That could be because women usually have a smaller carpal tunnel than men. Certain medical conditions can lead to it:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Most people acquire carpal tunnel syndrome, however, through repetitive motion. Working certain jobs that involve repeating the same motion with your arm over a long time raise a person’s chances of getting it. These jobs include:
- Assembly line worker
- Sewer or knitter
- Hair stylist
Generally, treatment involves lifestyle changes (change the repetitive motion, if possible) and stretching and strengthening exercises. It may help to immobilize the wrist with a splint. Anti-inflammatories or steroids shots can reduce the swelling. But if those have no effect surgery may be necessary because if left alone, the condition can cause permanent nerve damage.
The surgeons at Texas Neurosurgery generally have two options for surgery to relieve the pressure causing carpal tunnel syndrome. The goal is to cut the transverse carpal ligament and relieve pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. There are two approaches:
- Open carpal tunnel release surgery. An incision is made at the base of the palm of the hand. This allows the doctor to see the transverse carpal ligament that needs to be cut to release the pressure on the median nerve.
- Endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery. A small endoscope is guided through a small incision in the wrist (single-portal technique) or at the wrist and palm (two-portal technique). The endoscope lets the surgeon see the structures in the wrist without a larger incision.
Both surgeries are usually performed under local anesthesia and are outpatient procedures.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, the experienced surgeons of Texas Neurosurgery can fix the problem and eliminate your pain. Call for a consultation, 214-823-2052.