411 on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that occurs when the median nerve located in the wrist becomes pinched. The median nerve, which provides feeling to the thumb and fingers, passes through a narrow passageway called the carpal tunnel. Certain health conditions and activities can cause swelling within the carpal tunnel that impinges on the median nerve.

Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In the early stages, symptoms typically include numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the fingers and palm. The fingers may feel swollen even when there is no evidence of swelling. Initially, the symptoms may be worse at night since it is common to sleep with the wrists in a flexed position. Eventually, the symptoms may persist throughout the day to the point that it is difficult to grasp objects, make a fist, or perform other tasks requiring manual dexterity. When left untreated, the muscles located at the bottom of the thumb may atrophy and touch sensation may be lost.

How Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Develop?

Carpal tunnel can arise from a variety of factors and causes. In most instances, the condition is caused by a reduction in the amount of space within the tunnel itself rather than an issue with the median nerve. Trauma, thyroid problems, excess fluid retention, cysts, and rheumatoid arthritis can all cause inflammation within the carpal tunnel. The condition is also common in individuals who perform repetitive tasks with their hands and wrists or use vibrating tools, just as jackhammers.

What Does Diagnosis & Treatment Entail?

One of LA Hand Surgeon’s board-certified plastic hand surgeons and hand specialists can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome by compiling a detailed medical and lifestyle history as well as using a variety of imaging, laboratory, and electrodiagnostic tests. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the median nerve.

Contact our office today to learn more about the surgical and non-surgical treatment options our plastic surgeons offer for carpal tunnel syndrome. Our team of board-certified plastic hand and reconstructive surgeons includes Dr. Arezou Yaghoubian, Dr. S. Daniel Golshani and Dr. James Coleman.

Ways to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Numbness and tingling in the thumb and fingers are often a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition is common in individuals who perform repetitive actions using their hands and wrists. The median nerve that provides feeling to the thumbs and all of the fingers with the exception of the pinky finger, passes through a small tunnel of ligament and bone called the carpal tunnel. Repetitive motions can cause inflammation within the carpal tunnel to the point that it impinges upon the median nerve causing numbness and tingling. Click here to learn about other medical services our LA plastic hand surgeons offer including for cumulative trauma, tumors and masses, hand infections and more.

How You Can Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Although it may not be possible to avoid all activities that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, there are certain steps that can be taken to limit the stress on the wrists and hands that can exacerbate symptoms.

• Avoid using excessive pressure or force to perform activities. For example, use light keystrokes when typing instead of pounding the keyboard.

• Avoid tensing the hands or gripping objects too tightly.

• Take a break for 10 to 15 minutes each hour to rest and stretch the fingers and wrists.

• Try to keep the wrists in a neutral position instead of bent to reduce pressure on the median nerve.

• When possible, switch hands when performing tasks.

• Maintain good body posture since slouching can place strain on various muscles and nerves that can exacerbate wrist problems.

• Try to keep the wrists and hands warm to alleviate pain and stiffness.

Stretching Exercises for the Fingers and Wrists

The following stretching exercises can help release tension in the wrists and hands:

Start by making a fist and then fan the fingers out by stretching them as far as possible. Make a fist again and then slide the fingers up to point straight out. Repeat these exercises up to 10 times during each break.

For more information about carpal tunnel treatment options, contact our Beverly Hills practice to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic and hand surgeon and carpal tunnel specialists.