Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The most common nerve compression syndrome is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), caused by compression of the median nerve at the wrist. Typically, the median nerve becomes inflamed after being aggravated by repetitive movements, such as typing or playing the piano.

CTS symptoms primarily affect the hand and sometimes the forearm, but can radiate up to the shoulder, disrupting transmission of sensations from the hand up to the arm and to the central nervous system. Symptoms often occur in both hands but are usually worse in one hand, and include:

  • Numbness or pain in your hand, forearm or wrist that awakens you at night and may be eased by shaking or moving your fingers
  • Occasional tingling, numbness, “pins-and-needles” sensation or pain
  • Numbness or pain that worsens while you are using your hand or wrist, especially when gripping an object or flexing your wrist
  • Occasional aching pain in your forearm between your elbow and wrist
  • Stiffness in your fingers when you get up in the morning

Are You a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Surgery?

With moderate or severe CTS, you may have numbness or reduced strength and grip in your fingers, thumb or hand. If you experience severe pain that cannot be relieved through rest, rehabilitation or nonsurgical treatment, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive carpal tunnel release surgery.

This surgery involves a small incision in the wrist, through which a miniaturized camera is used to view the carpal tunnel. The ligament at the bottom of the wrist is cut to relieve pressure.

Patients recover and return to work and activities faster than with open-incision techniques, but should avoid repetitive use of the hand for four weeks after surgery. Recurrence of symptoms is rare, and most patients recover completely.