A nerve called the median nerve runs down the center of our wrists. It can sometimes get compressed (squeezed) by surrounding tissue. When it does, it can cause pain such as numbness or tingling or even electrical sensations into the palm and fingers. Sometimes it is enough to wake us up at night to shake our hand out because it feels asleep. If this sounds familiar, it may be due to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Feel free to make an appointment to see us to discuss. Sometimes a physical exam and ultrasound can help identify evidence of CTS.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common focal single nerve condition seen in clinics and refers to the symptoms and exam findings related to compression of the median nerve as it courses through the carpal tunnel.
Compression of this nerve can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand and fingers. It is a common condition that affects up to 5% of the population and is more common in women and certain medical conditions like diabetes and obesity.
Many individuals with CTS experience pain at night that awakens them from sleep with the sensation that their hand is asleep and the need to shake the hand to “wake it up.” Sometimes the symptoms will also occur with activities like driving or holding a telephone. CTS can also affect both hands simultaneously. If CTS gets severe, it can result in permanent problems like hand weakness and dropping objects.
If you suspect you have CTS, it is important to see a sports medicine doctor, hand specialist, or neurologist for a focused history and examination. In addition to the examination, imaging tests like ultrasound can evaluate the nerve for enlargement. Other tests include nerve conduction tests to evaluate for impaired median nerve function. In mild to moderate CTS, non-surgical treatments are effective. However if the CTS is severe, surgery may be necessary.