Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common problems experienced in the hand and wrist. 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:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Electricity sensations
  • Wrist/hand pain
  • Dropping things
  • Shaking hands out
  • Waking up at night
  • Weakness
  • Made worse by repetitive movements, holding steering wheel, power & vibratory tools
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If your symptoms are very mild and recently started, your primary care doctor or hand doctor might recommend wearing a splint at night or simply avoid activities that cause the symptoms. Dr. Nelson does not recommend wearing splints during the day for carpal tunnel syndrome. Consider performing stretches and nerve gliding exercises multiple times during the day.

Dr. Nelson does not recommend patients to "live with" severe carpal tunnel syndrome for a prolonged time. 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 usually does not cure the carpal tunnel syndrome forever, and your symptoms may return.

Why is Dr. Nelson considered the carpal tunnel expert of Raleigh?

Dr. Nelson performs ultrasound diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, helping to avoid painful, 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 was 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 requires no anesthesia and no tourniquet. There are no sutures to remove, therapy is not needed, and patients get back to work and activities very quickly.

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