Carpal Tunnel

Angus Goetz, DO, FAOAO

Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Specialist located in Jackson, WY

More than 5 million working Americans suffer from hand and wrist pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). At his Jackson, Wyoming, practice, Dr. Angus Goetz diagnoses and treats this troublesome condition with surgery. CTS can lead to weakness, numbness, and tingling that affects your ability to function at work, especially at a computer. Surgery can effectively address painful symptoms and restore you to optimal health. If you’re experiencing prolonged hand and wrist pain, call or schedule an appointment online today.

Carpal Tunnel Q & A

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common pain condition that affects the hand and arm.

It occurs when a major nerve in the hand — called the median nerve — becomes compressed. The median nerve travels down the arm and forearm, passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist, and enters the hand.

This nerve provides feeling in your fingers and controls the muscles at the base of the thumb.

Typically, CTS gradually worsens over time and medical intervention benefits greatly from early detection.

Without treatment, pressure on the median nerve can progress and result in more serious nerve damage and painful symptoms like numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hands and arms. It can even become difficult to move your fingers.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

Most cases of CTS are caused by a combination of factors, including:

Repetitive hand use

Repeating the same motion or activity with your hand or wrist or activities over a long period of time can irritate your wrist tendons and apply pressure on the nerve. People with sedentary desk jobs that involve constant typing are at risk in particular.

Wrist and hand positioning

Performing activities that involve an extension of the hand and wrist for a prolonged period of time can also place pressure on the nerve.

Heredity

It can run in your family. The carpal tunnel may be smaller and more vulnerable to being compressed in some people. Even a slightly smaller than average carpal tunnel affects the amount of space for the nerve.

Pregnancy

Hormonal changes a woman goes through during pregnancy can lead to swelling in many different parts of the body, including the carpal tunnel.

Other factors and health conditions

Conditions like diabetes, thyroid gland imbalance, and arthritis are also associated with CTS. Also, studies have shown that women and older people are at an increased risk of developing CTS.

How do you treat carpal tunnel syndrome?

First, to diagnose CTS, Dr. Goetz performs a physical examination of your hands, wrists, and arms, as well as diagnostic testing like ultrasounds, X-rays, and MRI scans.

Early on after a diagnosis, Dr. Goetz can often relieve CTS symptoms with simple measures, such as providing you with a wrist splint or recommending you avoid certain activities like typing.

However, in order to prevent permanent nerve damage, he’ll likely recommend carpal tunnel surgery to take pressure off the median nerve. He performs this under general anesthesia.

He makes a small incision in the palm of your hand to view and access the inside of your hand and wrist. During the procedure, he surgically spreads the roof of the carpal tunnel, increasing the size of the passageway and relieving pressure on the median nerve.

If you’re suffering from a hand, arm, or wrist pain and suspect it may be CTS, call or schedule an appointment online today.