October 24, 2019

Paul Nielsen, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon

What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • Numbness or tingling in the hand is the most common symptom
  • Many patients notice the symptoms at night, while driving, and with heavy use 
  • Some patients notice weakness in their hand
  • Pain or tightness into the fingers or wrist can also occur
  • The thumb, index, and middle fingers are the most commonly affected

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • The median nerve is compressed or “pinched” as it passes through a tight area at the wrist into the palm
  • This nerve gives feeling to the thumb, index, middle and part of the ring fingers
  • Sleeping with the wrist bent often pinches the nerve, causing night-time symptoms
  • Swelling, scar tissue, inflammation and injuries can compress the nerve and cause symptoms

What Are the Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • Wrist braces or splints can be worn at night to keep the wrist straight to avoid compressing the nerve
  • NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or meloxicam can help with pain and swelling
  • Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel can help temporarily but are not a long-term solution
  • Surgery can include a carpal tunnel release to take the pressure off the nerve
  • This can be performed as a traditional open surgery, minimally invasive mini-open surgery, or minimally invasive with a scope (endoscopic)
  • Often the surgery can be performed with just local anesthesia in about 10 minutes

What Is Recovery Like After Surgery?

  • Patients normally are in a soft dressing for a few days after surgery
    • Sutures are removed 10-14 days after surgery
  • Light use of the hand is encouraged immediately after surgery
    • Heavy use of the hand is allowed about a month after surgery
  • Hand therapy is usually not required
  • Most patients regain normal feeling and function of their hand quickly
  • It is uncommon for patients to require a re-do surgery

Suspect you may have carpal tunnel syndrome? Make an appointment by calling New West at 308-865-2570. No referral required.


About the Author

Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand & upper extremity surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, NE.


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