Treating carpal tunnel syndrome in Central Oregon

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful affliction of the wrist.

Women get carpal tunnel syndrome three times more often than men, and it usually occurs only in adults. Do you have any of these symptoms? If so, it's likely you have carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Weakness when gripping objects with one or both hands
  • Pain or numbness in one or both hands
  • "Pins and needles" feeling in the fingers
  • Swollen feeling in the fingers
  • Burning or tingling in the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers
  • Pain or numbness in your hands that is worse at night

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

If you look at your wrist with your palm facing up, the carpal tunnel is an opening in your wrist that is formed by the carpal bones on the inside of the wrist and the carpal ligament across the top of the wrist. There is a nerve that passes through the tunnel called the median nerve, which provides sensory and motor functions to the thumb and three middle fingers. When the median nerve is compressed and/or irritated as it passes through the carpal tunnel, you may have symptoms like those described above.

Any or all of the following may be a contributing factor:

  • Frequent, repetitive, small movements with the hands (such as with typing or using a keyboard)
  • Frequent, repetitive, grasping movements with the hands (such as with sports and certain physical activities)
  • Joint or bone disease (such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Hormonal or metabolic changes (such as menopause, pregnancy or thyroid imbalance)
  • Changes in blood sugar levels (may be seen with type 2 diabetes)
  • Other conditions or injuries of the wrist (such as strain, sprain, dislocation, break or swelling and inflammation)
  • Family history of carpal tunnel syndrome

How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include:

  • Splinting your hand. This helps keep your wrist from moving. It also eases the compression of the nerves inside the tunnel.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication. These may be oral or injected into the carpal tunnel space. These reduce the swelling.
  • Surgery. This eases compression on the nerves in the carpal tunnel.
  • Work site changes. Changing position of your computer keyboard or making other ergonomic changes can help ease symptoms.
  • Exercise. Stretching and strengthening exercises can be helpful in people whose symptoms have gotten better. These exercises may be supervised by a physical or occupational therapist.

Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome

The surgery is called “carpal tunnel release” and it is one of the most common surgeries in the United States.

This surgery is usually an outpatient procedure. There are two types of carpal tunnel surgery: open surgery and endoscopic surgery. Open surgery is traditional surgery, whereas endoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and uses instruments inserted into small incisions.

Very simply, in both surgeries the tissue (the carpal ligament) that is pressing on the nerve is cut, relieving the pressure.

Want to know more about our neurology services? Call us today at 541-388-4333.

St. Charles Health System partners with providers who are leaders in treating carpal tunnel syndrome in Central Oregon.