Carpal Tunnel Treatment
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. As a result, you could experience numbness and tingling in your hand and arm. This can make both work and recreation difficult and painful, and it can greatly affect your overall quality of life. Following a clinical diagnosis and full evaluation of your hands and wrists, Gregg A. Vagner, M.D. in Austin, TX, can recommend the proper carpal tunnel treatment plan. He will usually begin with a steroid shot or bracing. However, if these methods do not help you experience relief, he may recommend open or closed surgery. After surgery, Dr. Vagner will provide thorough monitoring and follow-up treatment.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel runs along the underside of your wrist. It encases the median nerve, which gives sensation to your palm, thumb, and all of your fingers, except your little finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is pinched. There are a number of factors that can contribute to nerve compression, including:
- Wrist fracture
- Heredity, causing a naturally narrow carpal tunnel
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy
- Rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid imbalance, diabetes, and other health conditions
In some cases, doctors are not sure why certain patients develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
The Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. You may also experience weakness in your hand or arm. Sometimes, discomfort can radiate along your forearm and up to your elbow. Because the median nerve does not connect to your little finger, it is not affected. Nevertheless, the condition can dramatically impact the movement and function of your other fingers. These sensations are more likely to be pronounced at night or when you are engaged in certain activities, such as driving or holding the phone. You may also become clumsier, frequently dropping things due to weakness in your hand.
Carpal Tunnel Treatment Options
To diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, Dr. Vagner will conduct a full evaluation of your hands and wrists. He may also perform an advanced electrodiagnostic test. During this procedure, he will send gentle electrical stimulation down your median nerve from various points higher on your arm. Then he will measure how long it takes for the stimuli to reach your hand and fingers. A slow reaction time will typically indicate carpal tunnel syndrome.
Following your diagnosis, Dr. Vagner will determine the most effective course of treatment. Typically, he will begin with conservative methods, such as bracing and cortisone injections. These treatments can help to reduce swelling, inflammation, and discomfort. If they do not prove effective, Dr. Vagner will usually recommend surgery. During this process, he will make an incision in the ligament that is pressing down on your median nerve. As you recover, the ligament will usually heal with more room for this nerve.
Dr. Vagner offers two types of carpal tunnel surgery: endoscopic and open. An endoscopic procedure is minimally invasive. Your surgeon will use a very small optical tube to access your nerve through minute incisions. This treatment typically involves a very fast recovery, and you will not usually need sutures. Open surgery requires a larger incision, usually placed across your palm. Open surgery may be the best option if you have larger hands. After open surgery, you will have a longer recovery. You will need to wear dressings over the incision for two days. After this time, you should only need an adhesive bandage. In about 10 days, Dr. Vagner will remove your stitches. You should avoid heavy lifting for about two weeks. Once you have made a full recovery, you can experience completely restored strength and range of motion.
If you are suffering from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Dr. Vagner’s office to schedule a consultation. Dr. Vagner will review your symptoms and conduct an analysis of your wrist to determine the best approach.
"I am committed to using experience, along with the latest techniques and technologies, to help my patients achieve the full function, mobility, and comfort in their hand, wrist, and arm that they experienced prior to their injury."Dr. Gregg Vagner