Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common cause of hand pain and numbness. The carpal (wrist) tunnel refers to a tunnel-like structure that protects the tendons and the median nerve traveling in your wrist. When there is excess pressure on the median nerve, most commonly as a result of thickening or swelling of the surrounding tissue.
Patients typically describe pain, numbness, or tingling in the hand. At times, people will notice that their symptoms worsen with certain activities, such as holding objects (like a newspaper), driving, and opening doors or jars. Symptoms also tend to be more common at nighttime but can occur during the daytime.
After a comprehensive history and physical examination, an EMG study may be indicated to confirm the diagnosis and also to quantify the severity of the condition.
Treatment can include medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications, bracing of the wrists, and activity modifications. At times, US guided steroid injections may be can be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation. In cases where symptoms are significant despite more conservative treatments or where EMG findings note findings of more significant nerve damage, surgery consultation may be indicated.