Doc Talk | Carpal tunnel syndrome

Think about how often we all use our hands.

Whether it's to write, to type, to hold objects or to lift things.

So it's no surprise that over time, that could lead to problems in the hand or wrist, including carpal tunnel.

Dr. Jyoti Sharma, a Geisinger Holy Spirit Orthopedic Surgeon, says carpal tunnel is when, "the nerve along with 9 other tendons travel thru this tunnel adn for whatever the reason may be, there’s pressure put on the nerve from a tight ligament that goes across the nerve."

It can happen for any reason at any point and any age, though it is more common in older people.

It's more commonly associated with broken bones, arthitis in the bone around the carpal tunnel or fluids building up due to pregnancy.

"Common symptoms that patients will notice are pain esp at nighttime or that their fingers are getting numb or tingly," Dr. Shamra said.

They may also experience weakness in grip, but doctors say it's mostly treatable without surgery or procedures.

"Things like modifying your wrist and hand position when you’re working or doing activities that can help," says Dr. Sharma. "Wearing splints that keep your wrist straight."

Steroid injections are also an option, and if it does come to surgery there is both an endoscopic, less invasive option an an open option that's more invasive.

"The transverse carpal ligament which passes on top or is the roof of the carpal tunnel, we split that and the reason for splitting that is to release the pressure on the nerve and make the carpal tunnel bigger if you will," says Dr. Sharma.

Surgical recovery is usually about four weeks, but the pain should vanish almost immediately.

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