Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common problem affecting the hand and the wrist. The symptoms are caused by squashing of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.
One of the first symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is gradual tingling and numbness in the areas supplied by the median nerve. This is typically followed by dull, vague pain where the nerve gives sensation in the hand. The hand may begin to feel like it is asleep, especially in the early morning hours after a night's rest.
Anti-inflammatory medications may help control the swelling and reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
A steroid injection of cortisone into the carpal tunnel may be suggested. This medication is used to reduce the swelling in the tunnel and may give temporary relief of symptoms. A cortisone injection may help ease symptoms and can aid your surgeon in making a diagnosis. If you don't get even temporary relief from the injection, it could indicate that some other problem is causing your symptoms. When your symptoms do go away after the injection, it's likely they are coming from a problem within the carpal tunnel. Your surgeon may feel this is a signal that a surgical release of the transverse carpal ligament would have a positive result.
Your surgeon may suggest that you work with a hand therapist. The main focus of treatment is to reduce or eliminate the cause of pressure in the carpal tunnel. Your hand therapist may check your workstation and the way you do your work tasks.
If all attempts to control your symptoms fail, surgery may be suggested to reduce the pressure on the median nerve, in the form of a carpal tunnel decompression.