Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition in which a large nerve (the median nerve) becomes compressed deep in the wrist. This nerve gives you the feeling to the thumb, index, long, and half of the ring finger. It also powers muscles that move the thumb. Frequently, this condition presents with numbness and tingling in the hands. People complain of waking up at night to feel that their hands are asleep. They have to shake them for a few minutes before the feeling returns. Another common complaint is that the hands and fingers start to go numb when doing activities such as typing.
So, what should you do? Well, most of the time this is a benign condition that can be treated conservatively. Here are a few of the most common initial treatments:
-Bracing the wrist
-Antiinflammatory medications
-Steroid injections
However, if symptoms are left untreated for long enough, the muscles in the hand can become irreparably damaged. Full function may never return to the muscles in the hand. In these cases, a quick 5 minute procedure can decompress the nerve, and should not be delayed. See an orthopedist if your symptoms have been going on for more than a few weeks.
William Ashford, MD

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