Carpal tunnel syndrome, or median neuropathy at the wrist, is the most common nerve entrapment in the body. Notable risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome are: female gender, age over 40 years, elevated body mass index, diabetes, and work involving a combination of repetitive work, forceful work (namely gripping and pinching), and work requiring awkward postures of the wrists and hands.
Most patients with carpal tunnel symptoms describe pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in one or both hands. Often, symptoms occur at night, while reading or driving, or with grasping and pinching tasks such as crocheting or knitting, writing, computer work, texting, or fine tool work such as carving or engraving. Because of the anatomy of the median nerve in the wrist and hand, patients classically describe symptoms in their thumb, index, and middle fingers, and sometimes their ring finger (half of their ring finger to be exact!); however, it is not uncommon for patients to describe more widespread symptoms of numbness, tingling, or pain in all of their fingers or symptoms that radiate to their elbow or shoulder.
Differential Diagnosis: The “gold standard” test for diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome is electrodiagnostic (EDX) testing. [Watch Video] EDX testing, consisting of nerve conduction studies and needle electromyography, is used to assess the integrity of your peripheral nerve and muscle function. Testing in our clinic typically takes about 45 minutes and I provide a comprehensive report of the results the same day. Along with testing for carpal tunnel syndrome (median neuropathy at the wrist), I also evaluate for the presence of other common conditions causing numbness, tingling, or pain in the hand and fingers including cervical radiculopathy, cubital tunnel syndrome (ulnar neuropathy at the elbow), and sensorimotor polyneuropathy.
Treatment: Most patients with carpal tunnel syndrome benefit from a few simple conservative treatments. We often use wrist splints at night, provide tendon glide and nerve gliding exercises, and perform a variety of manual joint mobilizations on the wrist and thumb joints.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome? Schedule a comprehensive EDX test with our Board Certified Doctor of Physical Therapy. For questions about any other conditions, we offer a FREE consultation in our South Ogden clinic to discuss how our individual, specialized care will benefit you!
Dr. Nathan J. Savage, DPT, PhD Board Certified Orthopaedic Specialist