Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common conditions affecting the hands. patients typically say that they wake up at night with a feeling of pins and needles in their fingers, like their hand is asleep. They commonly shake their hands out to relieve the symptoms. As the problem progeresses their hand will go numb when they drive, talk on the phone, or do their hair. And as the problem becomes even more severe they will eventually report constant numbness in their fingers. All the nerves that go to the hand originate.
From the spinal cord at the neck level. the median nerve goes down the arm and crosses the wrist under a ligament called the transverse carpal ligament. This nerve then gives sensation to the thumb, index, and long finger; as well as, half of the ring finger. The nerve also supplies some of the muscles that move the thumb. If you look at this end on you can see the ligament across the top and the carpal bones on the bottom creating a tunnel. This is the carpal tunnel. Not only does the median nerve.
Go through this tunnel but so do all the tendons that bend your fingers, so it’s actually a fairly tight space. The ligament and the carpal bones are all firm structures so if an increase in pressure develops in the tunnel these strucutres don’t stretch to accomodate the extra pressure. The pressure is directly transmitted to the nerve impairing its function. Treatment for early carpal tunnel may involve wearing a wrist splint, when the wrist is in a nuetral position; not flexed or extended,.
The tunnel has its maximimum diameter decreasing the pressure on the nerve. this is especially helpful for patients who tend to sleep in the fetal position with their arms folded. Occasionaly a steroid injection may be used to help reduce the swelling in the carpal tunnel. Finally, your physician may reccomend a carpal tunnel release. This is a surgery that merely involves opening the ligament, relieving the pressure on the median nerve.