What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Numbness and tingling in the fingers when driving a car or holding a phone. Nighttime awakening with the sensation of numbness, tingling and burning in the fingertips.

These are symptoms typical of carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that results from a compressed or pinched nerve in the wrist. This common condition affects millions of Americans.

The syndrome is sometimes associated with trauma, overuse or disorders that cause inflammation in the body. It can even be related to thyroid disease. Most of the time, the cause is unknown.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is treatable with the following:

  • Wrist splints: Used at night to decrease pressure on the irritated nerve.
  • Corticosteroid (cortisone) injections: These are occasionally used to decrease inflammation around the irritated nerve.
  • Surgery: Carpal tunnel release can be performed.

“Carpal tunnel release is an outpatient procedure that decreases pressure within the carpal tunnel. It is one of the most frequently performed hand surgeries, and it reliably decreases or eliminates symptoms of numbness and tingling that result from the syndrome,” says Dr. Michael Brody, an orthopedic surgeon at Aurora Health Care. “It can be done through an incision in the palm, or in some cases, we use a minimally invasive approach with the aid of ultrasound guidance.”

If you believe you are experiencing a similar pain, speak with your doctor who can perform a physical exam and order additional testing.

Are you trying to find a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin. 

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  1. I had carpal tunnel release earlier this year. After years of working on keyboards and using a mouse, my right hand was numb half the day. It was an incredible relief to have the minor surgery to redirect the nerve and ease my pain. I recommend the surgery for those who have intense numbness.

  2. I had two carpal tunnel releases, one in late 2022 and the second in 2023. Please take note that older you are, there is a higher percentage chance that you may not have success/long term success. My doctor did bring this to my attention, but due to the pain, I opted to take a chance. Initially after the procedures, I was once again able to sleep throughout the night, unfortunately over time the symptoms now have returned in both hands. I recommend you discuss this with your doctor before moving forward.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.