Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel Specialist
Carpal tunnel problems aren’t just the domain of computer users. Athletes who overuse their hands and wrists often develop this painful condition, which can severely hamper performance. Dr. William Burns offers the latest carpal tunnel treatments at Craig Ranch Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Frisco, Texas, getting you back in the game with minimal downtime.

Carpal Tunnel Q&A

by Dr. William C. Burns II

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an aptly named disorder because it involves an actual tunnel that runs from the forearm to the wrist that contains the median nerve and several tendons. The median nerve is responsible for the movement and feeling of the first four fingers (all but the last, or little, finger). When the tunnel is compromised by swelling or irritation, it puts pressure on the median nerve, which causes numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the hand.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

The pressure on the median nerve by the carpal tunnel can be caused by several things, including:

  • Repetitive movement in the wrist
  • Illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism
  • Overuse of the wrist
  • Injury to the wrist
  • Being female -- more women than men are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome

Athletes such as cyclists, pitchers, or gymnasts, who rely on their hands and wrists, are especially susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

The main symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • Numbness or tingling in the first four fingers -- The median nerve affects feeling on the palm side, or underside, of the hand and wrist. This sensation may also travel up the forearm.
  • Pain in the wrist and hand -- Severe discomfort in the affected wrist and hand, often at night, is a sign that there may be carpal tunnel issues.
  • Weakness -- The weakness mainly presents itself during pinching motions, especially using the thumb.

How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?

If you catch carpal tunnel syndrome early enough in its progression, there is a lot you can do at home to address the issue, such as:

  • Resting the wrist and hand
  • Icing
  • Bracing or splinting
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications

If the syndrome persists, cortisone injections or surgery may be required if other measures have had little effect. Dr. Burns goes over the options with you to help get you back to your daily routines as quickly as possible.

As well, Dr. Burns can recommend measures that have had great success in preventing the condition from returning, such as:

  • Exercises for the wrists and hands
  • Weight loss
  • Posture and use modifications
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