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Untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to chronic pain.

‘Handling’ carpal tunnel surgery

​​Q: I have pain and weakness in my wrist with occasional numbness in the palm side of my hand. Is this carpal tunnel syndrome? Can it be treated?

"Your symptoms do suggest carpal tunnel syndrome. Without an in-office exam, however, I can't make a confident diagnosis," says Yoav Kaufm​​an, M.D., a specialist in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. "Patients with this condition describe similar symptoms during routine activities such as driving, holding a cell phone, writing, typing or reading a newspaper."

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

"This syndrome is a pain producing disorder usually occurring due to increased pressure on a nerve providing sensation to the thumb and fingers. Associated pain may radiate to the forearm and shoulder," he says.

"Some patients report numbness and tingling in the entire hand. Others report weakness and instability of their hands. Untreated, severe carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to chronic pain and atrophied muscles."

Causes tied to repetitive motion

"Causes are usually related to long-term, repetitive motions of the hands, or trauma, such as a wrist fracture, that compresses nerves," Dr. Kaufman says. "Other disorders associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include diabetes, arthritic diseases and gout."

​Treatments vary

"If conservative treatments, such as wrist splints, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections or activity modifications, prove unsatisfactory, surgery may be considered," he says. "Surgery is done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia. The procedure may employ the endoscopic 'carpal tunnel release' with one or two small incisions. The benefit of endoscopic release is less postoperative pain and an earlier return to work."

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Yoav Kaufman, MD, FACS

​Successful patient care involves a friendly, compassionate environment, up-to-date information about the patient condition, needs and treatment options, and ultimately a surgeon dedicated to the best care possible.