GREENWICH, Conn. -- Most people associate carpal tunnel syndrome with activities that require repetitive or prolonged flexing of the wrist, such as playing the piano, typing on a keyboard, or working with vibrating hand tools. However, people can also develop the painful wrist condition without an underlying cause, according to hand, wrist and elbow specialist, Dr. Matthew B. Cantlon of Orthopedic and Neurosurgery Specialists in Greenwich and Stamford.
“Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed as it travels through the wrist," he said. "Although some cases of carpal tunnel syndrome have an identifiable cause, such as a broken bone or cyst, most instances do not." What is known is that women are more commonly affected than men and the chance of developing carpal tunnel issues increases with age, he noted.
Typical symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling in the palm and fingers, which is usually worse at night. If daytime symptoms are present, they are often exacerbated by activities that include repeated or prolonged wrist flexion, extension or pressure on the palm.
If symptoms continually wake you up at night or persist during daytime hours, seek further medical advice. Based on the severity of symptoms, doctors may order a special nerve conduction study to can help confirm the diagnosis.
Most treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is non-operative. Modifying activities to limit wrist flexion and extension as well as any prolonged pressure on the palm can help alleviate discomfort. Using splints at night, and intermittently during the day, has been shown to help as well. For more severe cases, hand therapy programs and injections may be needed.
If non-operative treatments fail, a physician may recommend surgery to help relieve pressure on the median nerve. Recovery time from the surgery is relatively fast. Most people are back at work within two weeks. However, it may take as long as three to six months for a full recovery.
To learn more about how ONS doctors are working to relieve carpal tunnel in patients across Fairfield County, click here.