The Healthy: What to Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In a recent interview with The Healthy, David Hay, MD, a hand and wrist surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute, discussed carpal tunnel syndrome, a common condition that causes numbness, tingling or weakness in the hand. Hay discussed the various symptoms as well as treatment options.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway through the wrist that surrounds tendons and one of the hand's major nerves that supplies the thumb and three middle fingers with sensory and motor functions. When the nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause a group of symptoms that collectively are known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
"The signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be very subtle at first, but it’s important to recognize them immediately. If you can catch the problem early, you have a better chance of reversing or even healing it," Hay told The Healthy.
Hay explained that there are three stages of carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Stage 1: Intermittent symptoms that may only occur during certain activities or upon waking in the morning.
- Stage 2: Consistent symptoms that come and go during the day and pain that may be severe enough to disturb sleep.
- Stage 3: Constant symptoms as well as weakness or muscle loss in the thumb.
In mild cases, ibuprofen can help manage symptoms and reduce pain. In more severe cases, surgery often is the only solution.
“The good news is that carpal tunnel surgery these days is minimally invasive, has a quick recovery and is usually successful,” Hay told The Healthy. “Ninety-five percent of patients get at least 95% relief, with some seeing a total resolution of their symptoms.”
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