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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and How Is It Treated?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is very prominent in our Eagle and Summit County communities. Caused when the major nerve in the hand is compressed, carpal tunnel syndrome results in painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms in the hand and wrist.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage that protects the median nerve, which helps move the thumb and three fingers of the hand. When the tissues in that passage get inflamed or swollen, they compress the median nerve - resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in patients whose jobs or hobbies with repetitive finger use. This includes our Vail Valley and Frisco, Colorado, patients who are:

  • Golfers

  • Carpenters

  • Grocery workers

  • River kayakers

  • Musicians

  • Computer-based jobs

  • Mechanics

Other risk factors include pregnancy and a past wrist injury (such as a dislocation or fracture). Carpal tunnel syndrome is also heredity and more common in women.

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can range from annoying to severely painful. Common carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include:

  • Numbness in the hand and fingers

  • Tingling, primarily in the hand, thumb, and first three fingers of the hand

  • Pain and numbness at night

  • Trouble performing gripping motions, such as opening a door

  • Noticeable thumb weakness

  • Difficulty holding objects

As carpal tunnel syndrome progresses, these symptoms can worsen and become more consistent. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome could cause lasting damage to your wrist and hand.

How Do You Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

When patients complain of symptoms similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, Dr. Joseph and his team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery usually perform a series of physical exams along with imaging tests. These tests will check for:

  • Numbness and tingling in the wrist and/or hand

  • Finger sensitivity

  • Thumb weakness

  • Muscle atrophy

After Dr. Joseph evaluates the extent of the carpal tunnel syndrome, he will recommend a treatment plan that’s right for the patient and their lifestyle.

In the majority of cases, Dr. Joseph can treat carpal tunnel syndrome nonsurgically. Conservative treatments include:

  • Splinting

  • Bracing

  • Over-the-counter medications for pain and inflammation

  • Physical therapy

  • Steroid injections

If conservative treatment has no impact or the carpal tunnel syndrome has progressed, Dr. Joseph may recommend surgery to “release” the compressed nerve. This is an outpatient procedure where the ligament that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel is cut. The majority of carpal tunnel syndrome surgical patients are able to return to normal activities in a few weeks.

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the Vail Valley and Summit County

If you’re suffering from pain, numbness, or tingling in your hand and wrist, contact Dr. Joseph today! Known for his empathy and skill, Dr. Joseph is the leading orthopaedic expert in hand and wrist injuries.

With three clinic locations in Eagle and Summit County, finding treatment for your carpal tunnel syndrome has never been easier! Contact Team Joseph today by calling (970) 476-7220 or by requesting an appointment online.

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