Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by pain and weakness in the wrist. It results when the median nerve that runs from the forearm into the hand gets squeezed at the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand. It houses the median nerve and tendons. If the carpal tunnel narrows, the median nerve is likely to get compressed, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment can involve surgical procedures or non-surgical treatment.
Surgical Treatment: To reduce the pressure on the median nerve, a surgeon severs the bond of tissue around the wrist with either open release surgery or endoscopic surgery.
Open Release Surgery: The surgeon makes a two-inch incision in the wrist and then cuts through the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia.
Endoscopic Surgery: The surgeon makes two incisions (about half-inch each) in the wrist and palm before cutting the carpal ligament, the tissue that holds the joints together. Local anesthesia is generally used. This treatment is effective, and also minimizes scarring and scar tenderness, if any. Faster functional recovery is possible and post-surgical discomfort is reduced.
Non-Surgical Treatment: Medication is prescribed, along with exercise. Drugs can alleviate the pain or reduce the swelling caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help in cases where symptoms are abating. Such natural treatments should be done under the supervision of a physical therapist.
Alternative Treatment: Acupuncture, chiropractic care, and yoga are some popular alternative treatments for carpal tunnel. While the effectiveness of the first two is yet to be clinically proven, yoga has proven to reduce pain and improve grip strength.
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