Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is among the most common causes of hand pain in many American adults. The condition occurs when the connective tissues around the carpal tunnel—the narrow passageway on the base of your hand where the median nerve runs through—get inflamed. The inflammation consequently puts pressure on the median nerve, which is one of the major nerves that control the movements of your hand.
Compression of the median nerve, when left unaddressed, can cause damage to the nerve and chronic weakness to the muscles innervated by it. To prevent these complications, you need to consult a hand doctor, who will run specific tests to make an accurate diagnosis and devise an appropriate treatment plan.
Below are bits of information to help you get a general understanding of what may transpire at your appointment with your hand doctor along with where you can find a good one in Pembroke Pines and Lauderdale Lakes in Florida.
Confirming a Diagnosis
CTS causes burning, numbness, sharp pain, and/or shock-like sensations, which may travel through your wrist and up your forearm. These symptoms usually develop over time and are typically more pronounced when temperatures are cold, when you’re about to sleep at night, or when you use fine motor skills, such as holding and gripping.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is frequently misdiagnosed, and this is due to the fact that it produces symptoms that mimic those of several other conditions, such as arthritis, repetitive strain injury (RSI), and wrist tendonitis. As such, other than doing a physical exam and reviewing your history, your hand doctor will also perform any of the following tests to ascertain whether such symptoms are those of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Nerve Conduction Study – to evaluate median nerve dysfunction or damage
- Phalen maneuver- to detect compression on the median nerve
- Tinel sign- to identify if there’s an irritation in the median nerve and rule out other nerve conditions
Discussing Your Treatment Options
There are a variety of approaches to treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Which one you might need will depend on the severity of your symptoms.
Your hand doctor will likely advise that you rest your affected hand for a week or more, make some workplace changes to improve ergonomics, and take frequent breaks to reduce the strain on your wrist and hand. Your hand doctor will also discuss with you other treatment modalities that can effectively address your condition.
The following are some of the approaches your hand doctor will recommend for your carpal tunnel syndrome:
o Oral and Injectable Medications
NSAIDs are usually the first-line treatment for inflammation and pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Your hand doctor may also prescribe oral corticosteroids, which are more potent at alleviating the pain and inflammation.
For cases of CTS that don’t respond to medications, steroid injections provide significant relief for up to six months, albeit they have some risks, which you do need to discuss with your hand doctor.
o Therapeutic Exercise Program (Physical Therapy)
Your hand doctor may also recommend physical therapy. When you work with a physical therapist, they will educate you on specific therapeutic exercises to help reduce pressure on your median nerve. Under the guidance of your hand doctor, your physical therapist will incorporate these exercises with other treatment modalities to achieve an optimal outcome.
o Wearing a Splint at Night
Your hand doctor may also have you wear a splint at night to immobilize your wrist and keep it in a neutral position. This is especially helpful when you have mild to moderate CTS whose symptoms tend to intensify for a few weeks before dissipating. Your hand doctor will advise that you take intermittent breaks from wearing your splint to prevent your joints from stiffening.
o Surgery (Carpal Tunnel Release)
When the abovestated options fail to provide adequate relief, your hand doctor will likely recommend surgery to release the pressure on your median nerve, thereby fully addressing the discomforts. Carpal tunnel release may be performed using two different techniques: open (the traditional method) and endoscopic carpal tunnel release (the minimally invasive technique).
Board-Certified Hand Doctor in Pembroke Pines and Lauderdale Lakes, FL
If you’re experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and seeking high-quality care, schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified orthopedic surgeons here at Total Orthopaedic Care.
Our orthopedic surgeons received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, such as those that affect the hand. Based on the results of their thorough assessment, our orthopedic surgeons will make sure to utilize all conservative treatment approaches before recommending surgery. If surgery happens to be the only recourse, our providers have a proven track record for performing countless successful surgeries and helping people restore their normal function, so you can rest assured that you’re in very good hands.
We also offer on-site physical therapy services, so you can get everything taken care of in one place.
We have two centers located at Pembroke Pines and Lauderdale Lakes. To arrange a consultation, you may call our office at (954) 735-3535 or request an appointment.