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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when a nerve (median nerve) is pinched or compressed as it goes through a tunnel in the wrist and into the hand. It is one of the most common causes of hand pain and typically involves both hands. 

What type of pain can you experience with carpal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms occur in areas of the hand that the median nerve controls. These areas are the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger with pain that presents as:

  • Numbness and tingling

  • Burning pain

  • Pins and needles pain

  • Night pain

    • Usually causes patient to wake up and have to "shake" their hands

  • Pain in forearm

  • Electric pain

  • Muscle weakness or wasting

  • Frequently dropping objects

What type of risk factors increase your chances of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs from increased swelling or inflammation around the median nerve as the nerve enters a narrow tunnel in the wrist. This inflammation presses on the nerve and causes the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Conditions that increase the chances of inflammation in the tunnel include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels)

  • Pregnancy

  • Smoking

    • Decreases blood flow to the median nerve


How can our St. Louis pain doctors help diagnose your carpal tunnel pain?

  • Thorough history and physical exam

  • Nerve conduction study and electromyography (EMG)

    • Used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and determine if it is mild, moderate or severe

What are your treatment options?

At St. Louis Spine and Joint Pain Specialists, we specialize in diagnosing and treating nerve injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. These treatments include:

  • Steroid injections

    • Significantly improve pain and swelling around the nerve

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

  • Nighttime hand splints

    • Prevents irritation of the median nerve

  • Anticonvulsant

  • Physical therapy


What can you do to avoid or decrease carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Weight loss to decrease pressure on the wrists

  • Stop smoking 

  • Wear hand splints at night

  • Monitor and control blood sugars

  • Despite the common belief that keyboard typing causes carpal tunnel syndrome, studies have shown no connection between typing and developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

For more information or to discuss an appropriate treatment plan for your carpal tunnel syndrome pain with one of our specialized pain management physicians, call Saint Louis Spine and Joint Pain Specialists today.

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