Carpal tunnel syndrome can present as numbness and tingling in the thumb and first three fingers of the hand. It can also be associated with pain in the wrist. Often it is worse with activities such as sleeping, driving or reading a book.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome may include the following:
Thyroid disease
Rheumatoid disease
Vibration (equipment and tools)
Cold work environment
Repetitive activity
Wrist fractures

Out of 12 things on this list, they are almost all avoidable.  Individuals who change their lifestyle habits can reverse the symptoms of carpal tunnel due to obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse.  Treating thyroid disease and diabetes may also improve symptoms.  Symptoms associated with pregnancy often resolve shortly after delivery.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed with a simple nerve conduction study.  There conduction studies checked the nerves much like he would check the wiring in a house.  A small signal is sent down the nerve and can be recorded to tell how fast and how well the nerve conductions the signal.  The signal feels like static electricity, which means while it may be annoying it is not extremely painful.  Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome will have slowing of median nerve conduction across the wrist.

The appropriate treatment can be determined with your physiatrist based on your symptoms and the nerve conduction study. Treatment for mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome includes wrist splints, hand therapy, or ultrasound guided injections.  Severe carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated with surgery to take pressure off of the median nerve. Find out what the appropriate treatment is for you!

Christopher Burton, MD
Christopher Burton, MD

Christopher Burton, MD is a physician, speaker, coach and author, practicing in Pensacola, FL. He specializes in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, which focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions - particularly those of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems - that may produce temporary or permanent impairment of function. Dr. Burton also provides one-on-one Health & Wellness Coaching for select clients who want to improve their life significantly. In addition to his practice and coaching, he actively lectures on health, nutrition and exercise for healthcare groups, colleges, and businesses, and travels internationally teaching on various topics including the treatment and rehabilitation of athletes.