What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

October 3, 2018

If you’ve ever felt pain in your hands or wrists after typing for long periods of time, you may be noticing the beginning of carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS. It is caused by compression on the median nerve as it passes through a space known as the carpal tunnel in the wrist.

Patients who have CTS feel numbness and tingling along the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers which are along the distribution of the median nerve. Patients can develop symptoms by sleeping in certain positions which compress the nerve in the wrist or through engaging in repetitive motions. It’s time to see your doctor if you develop weakness in your hand or wrist and you start dropping things.

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and possibly order imaging tests or an EMG/NCS to confirm that the median nerve is involved. Treatment for CTS usually involves resting from repetitive motions, including typing, which can aggravate carpal tunnel. Other treatments include:

  • Using a splint to keep the hand in a neutral position, minimizing pressure on the nerve at night
  • Physical therapy
  • Oral anti-inflammatories
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery if symptoms do not improve after other treatment options

Carpal tunnel syndrome can greatly impact your day to day life, so it’s important to integrate rest periods throughout the day, especially if you find yourself on the computer for long periods of time.