Carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of nerve damage (neuropathy). It occurs when the nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel, the passageway on the inside of the wrist, is squeezed or compressed by the surrounding tissue.
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome have no identifiable cause. But the condition is seen in association with the following:
- Extra fluid build-up (edema) during pregnancy or menopause
- A wrist injury that causes swelling, such as a fracture
- Rheumatoid arthritis
When You Should Get Help for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Numbness, not pain, is the main symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome. But you may also experience pain, tingling (pins and needles) and problems with fine manipulation (the ability to grasp small or delicate objects).
The strange sensations and pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome can affect your palm and all fingers except for the pinky.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They may last for years at a time or go away and then come back.
If carpal tunnel symptoms are affecting your ability to work or enjoy life, experts at Rush can help. Talk to your primary care doctor about your symptoms. They can refer you to a specialist, if needed, to confirm the diagnosis and provide care.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment at Rush
At Rush, several different types of specialists treat carpal tunnel syndrome. These include neurologists with expertise in neuromuscular diseases, neurosurgeons, orthopedic hand and wrist surgeons, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists (physiatrists).
Whichever specialist you see, they can help determine whether your symptoms are being caused by carpal tunnel syndrome or another condition. To make an accurate diagnosis, you may undergo a nerve conduction and electromyography test, which evaluates the health of your nerves and muscles.
If you do have carpal tunnel syndrome, your provider will recommend a course of treatment. Your plan may include the following:
- Wearing a brace
- Modifying certain activities
- Physical therapy or occupational therapy
- Carpal tunnel release surgery to reduce pressure on the nerve
Your care team may recommend surgery if your symptoms are severe or long-standing. Whenever possible, Rush surgeons perform carpal tunnel release procedures using minimally invasive surgery with small incisions rather than larger open procedures. Your surgeon will discuss all of the options with you.
Rush Excellence in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Care
- Nationally recognized programs: Rush University Medical Center's orthopedics and neurology and neurosurgery programs are ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report.
- Experienced providers: Members of our carpal tunnel syndrome care teams are nationally respected leaders in their fields. Their expertise informs every aspect of your care, ensuring that you get the right treatment and the best possible results.
- Surgical expertise: Rush surgeons have decades of combined experience treating carpal tunnel syndrome, including performing a high volume of minimally invasive carpal tunnel release surgery.
- Comprehensive, convenient care: Each of the Rush programs that treat carpal tunnel syndrome provide all of the care you'll need under one roof, including diagnostic testing, hand therapy and outpatient surgery.