Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common problems experienced in the hand and wrist. It is estimated that one out of every 20 people suffers from this condition.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is irritation and malfunction of an important nerve that gives us feeling to the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. This nerve is called the median nerve.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Electricity sensations
- Wrist/hand pain
- Dropping things
- Shaking hands out
- Waking up at night
- Made worse by repetitive movements, holding steering wheel, power & vibratory tools
If your symptoms are very mild and recently started, your primary care doctor or hand doctor may recommend wearing a splint at night or simply avoiding activities that cause the symptoms. It is not recommended to wear splints during the day for carpal tunnel syndrome.
It is not recommended to live with severe carpal tunnel syndrome. Doing so may lead to permanent problems with the carpal tunnel nerve, which can cause permanent (not reversible) numbness, weakness, and poor coordination.
Sometimes if the diagnosis is unclear, your doctor may obtain nerve studies or perform an injection to confirm the diagnosis. While a steroid injection may make your symptoms better for a while, it is unlikely to cure the carpal tunnel syndrome forever, and your symptoms will likely come back.
Dr. Nelson often performs ultrasound diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, helping to avoid uncomfortable, expensive, and often unnecessary nerve studies.
When carpal tunnel syndrome does not resolve and remains severe (waking up every night, frequently shaking hands out, or losing sensation in fingertips), then Dr. Nelson will likely recommend a carpal tunnel release.
Dr. Nelson is an expert on a variety of carpal tunnel release techniques. While he performs hundreds of open and endoscopic carpal tunnel releases each year, in 2022 he became the first orthopaedic surgeon in the Raleigh-Durham area to perform micro-invasive ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release with the Sonex Ultraguide CTR device. This technique relieves all of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome but is performed through a very small poke incision at the level of the wrist. This procedure can be performed without anesthsia, tourniquet, or sutures and helps patients get back to work and activities very quickly.