When everyday tasks like opening jars and gripping pens lead to pain and numbness, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition becomes more uncomfortable as it progresses, so it’s essential to receive treatment right away. As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Scott Taylor specializes in carpal tunnel diagnostics and treatment. If you’re looking for a specialist in Oakland, California, set up an appointment online or over the phone at Scott M. Taylor M.D., A Professional Corporation.
The carpal tunnel is the narrow passageway at the bottom of your palm that nerves and tendons pass through. When the median nerve becomes compressed, it can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
The following conditions can cause compression, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome:
You may feel the side effects of carpal tunnel syndrome in your hand, wrist, and arm. They usually come on gradually and worsen over time. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
Some of the symptoms of carpal tunnel are also similar to De Quervain’s tenosynovitis and cubital tunnel syndrome.
In the case of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, the tendon along the thumb side of the hand swells and causes wrist pain. And in the case of cubital tunnel syndrome, you experience tingling pain or numbness in your hands, fingers, elbows, or wrist. Dr. Taylor can diagnose and treat either of those three conditions.
To make a diagnosis, Dr. Taylor asks detailed questions and conducts a full physical exam. That includes testing the strength and nerve function in your fingers and hand.
To rule out fractures and other wrist injuries, Dr. Taylor may request X-rays. He also uses nerve tests, such as electromyogram and nerve conduction studies, to detect electrical activity abnormalities in the muscles and nerves.
Nerve conduction studies help Dr. Taylor make an accurate diagnosis by testing impulses through the median nerve. He tapes two electrodes to the skin, sends a painless electrical impulse through the nerve, and measures how fast the impulse travels.
If you have mild to moderate symptoms, Dr. Taylor may suggest more conservative treatments. For example, targeted exercises, cold packs, wrist splints, and NSAIDs may give you relief.
If you have severe symptoms and your condition doesn’t respond to conservative treatments, you may be a good candidate for surgery. Surgery involves cutting the ligament that’s pressing on the median nerve.
However, you likely won’t need surgery. Many people with severe symptoms find that corticosteroids help reduce the swelling and inflammation that compress the nerve, thus finding relief.
Early treatment promotes the best outcomes. If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Dr. Taylor online or over the phone for an appointment.