Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition affecting the hand and wrist. It can make simple daily tasks like typing, cooking or working with your hands fall anywhere between uncomfortable to unpleasant. A progressive disease, carpal tunnel syndrome can worsen if left untreated, causing numbness, increased pain and even muscle damage. Carpal tunnel treatment from Denver hand surgeon Dr. Frank Campanile could be the solution you’ve been looking for to relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Understanding Carpal Tunnel
The carpal tunnel is the narrow channel where the major nerves and tendons from the wrist connect to the hand and fingers. Since this space is so small, even a small amount of inflammation or swelling can be enough to put pressure on the nerves within. Carpal tunnel can be impacted by your existing wrist and hand anatomy or result as a byproduct of a more primary health condition such as arthritis. While it is often suggested that repetitive motions during sports and exercise or long days at a computer can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, there have been no conclusive studies indicating that this is the case.
When the nerves within the carpal tunnel are compressed, you may experience pain, numbness or tingling and muscle weakness in the hand and fingers. With the right treatment, these symptoms can be minimized or relieved.
The initial treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome begins with nonsurgical methods. Some specialists suggest that sleeping position or inadvertent wrist flexion during sleep may be contributing factors to the worsening of progressive carpal tunnel syndrome. Sleeping with a wrist splint on at night may help alleviate some symptoms if this is the case.
Daytime use of a wrist splint, or alternating hot and cold compresses may also help reduce pain. Many of those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome will also try changing their typical work patterns and positions in order to reduce wrist strain. For example, trying ergonomic keyboards, a different kind of computer mouse or cushioned mouse pads can be beneficial for those experiencing increased symptoms during computer use.
Medical intervention may be necessary for successful treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. A physical therapist can to suggest exercises to alleviate pain and inflammation in the wrist. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can relieve inflammation without the use of steroids, while steroid injections directly into the carpal tunnel can also give temporary relief.
If the numbness and pain become constant rather than intermittent despite treatment attempts, it may be time to consider surgery. For severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, surgery that severs the ligament that’s pressing on the nerves can relieve symptoms. This surgery reduces pressure on the median nerve, and may be called carpal tunnel release surgery or surgical decompression. Although the ligament tissues will grow back together again, this is a gradual process that gives the nerve time to expand.
Dr. Campanile can perform this hand surgery procedure either openly or endoscopically. Open surgery requires an incision in the palm of the hand, through which Dr. Campanile can access the carpal tunnel and free the nerve by releasing the restraining ligament. During endoscopic surgery, Dr. Campanile will use a tiny camera to see inside the carpal tunnel and perform the surgery this way, requiring only very small incisions.
Following your surgery, Dr. Campanile encourages you to use your hand normally, while being careful to avoid wrist strain. Although you’ll feel some soreness at first, recurrence of symptoms is very rare following surgery.