Carpal tunnel syndrome is possibly the most common nerve disorder experienced today. It affects 4 – 10 million Americans and is usually very treatable. Middle-aged to older individuals are more likely to develop the syndrome than younger persons, and females three times more frequently than males.
Carpal tunnel syndrome disables a key nerve, resulting in symptoms ranging from mild occasional numbness to hand weakness, loss of feeling and loss of hand function. The main symptom is numbness of the fingers. Given this widespread familiarity, people often attribute any discomfort or pain in the hand or wrist to carpal tunnel syndrome. However, there are many other conditions which can cause similar complaints. It is important to know the difference.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome may interfere with hand strength and sensation, and cause a decrease in hand function.
- Other conditions, such as arthritis, tendonitis and other nerve involvement, need to be ruled out before diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Physicians can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome by history of the symptoms, physical examination and electrical testing, and in some cases by use of ultrasound or MRI.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated effectively with medications, splinting, steroid injections in the wrist and/or surgery.