Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common health issue. In fact, it’s becoming even more common in a day and age where office work makes it easier and easier for the average person to develop the condition. The pain, numbness, and tingling associated with this condition is uncomfortable at best, and debilitating at worst.

That’s where we can help. Established in 2004, Pittsburgh Foot and Hand Center is a local resource and care center for those affected by carpal tunnel syndrome. Since 1987, Dr. Bowman has provided the latest in both nonsurgical and surgical orthopaedic treatment to those affected by orthopaedic disorders. From our cutting-edge electronic medical records to our use of the latest in imaging technology, our staff process and training puts the focus on providing consistent care to you that is 100% based on your symptoms and needs. If you are struggling with carpal tunnel pain, and this sounds like the care that you need, you're invited to contact us online or at (724) 933-3300. We look forward to working with you and helping you find relief!

 

FAQs on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. The condition occurs when the median nerve (a major nerve in the hand) is squeezed or compressed by the structure of the wrist joint. 

The condition gets its name from the carpal tunnel - a narrow passageway in the bones of the wrist. Normally, this structure protects the median nerve and the tendons of the wrist and arm. However, if the carpal tunnel narrows or if its surrounding tissues begin to swell from irritation, these changes can put pressure on the median nerve. This abnormal pressure on the nerve can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can become a chronic health issue and may cause permanent damage when it's not caught or addressed early. It is therefore easier (and preferable) to treat before it becomes advanced and chronic.

What Are Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Some common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include: 

  • Numbness, tingling, burning, and pain in the fingers, hand, wrist, and arm
  • Shock-like sensations that radiate to the hand and fingers 
  • Pain or tingling that may travel from the hand and wrist, up the forearm toward the shoulder 
  • Weakness and clumsiness in the hand, leading to one dropping things more frequently or struggling to perform finer movements (i.e. buttoning clothing)

Each of these symptoms is likely to begin gradually, as well as worsen over time. Additionally, symptoms may disappear entirely for periods of time. Because of this, people who experience these symptoms without another obvious cause should report their concerns to their doctor.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a combination of factors, including:

  • Age. Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to develop later in life.
  • Genetics. Experts currently believe that the carpal tunnel structure is naturally smaller in some people than others, and that this may be determined by genetics.
  • Repetitive hand use. This cause is the most famous one, and has gained attention thanks to the rise of carpal tunnel in people who work with computers. Repetitive motions of the hand and wrist can aggravate the tendons and tissues in the area, causing swelling and putting pressure on the median nerve.
  • Other health conditions. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalance are conditions that are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy may lead to swelling in the tissues of the wrist.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

A carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis begins with a doctor's visit and evaluation. During this appointment, you will answer questions about your health and medical history, as well as describe your symptoms. With this information in mind, your doctor will conduct a physical examination of the affected arm, wrist, and hand. They will also conduct a number of in-office tests to see if certain movements and position of the wrist trigger symptoms and sensitivity. 

Your doctor may also use electrophysiological tests to examine the function of your median nerve. Electrophysiological tests can measure the electrical activity in muscles, as well as the effectiveness of the nerves running through the hand and arm. These tests will help your doctor determine if a nerve condition, rather than carpal tunnel, is to blame for your symptoms. They will also give your doctor a clearer picture of how severe your condition is.

In addition to an exam and electrophysiological tests, your doctor may use imaging screenings (i.e. ultrasound, x-rays, MRIs) to further evaluate your bones and soft tissues.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

Nonsurgical and surgical treatments are both options in addressing carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Nonsurgical options include braces that help to keep the wrist straight (relieving pressure on the median nerve), modifying your routine or work station to better support the wrist, and using "nerve gliding exercises" to help the median nerve move more freely within the narrow spaces of the carpal tunnel.

If nonsurgical treatment does not relieve your symptoms, surgery may be suggested to prevent additional damage and pain. If surgery is decided to be the best course of action, a surgeon will relieve pressure on your median nerve by cutting the ligament that forms the roof of the tunnel. This increases the size of the tunnel and decreases pressure on the median nerve. Prior to surgery, your doctor will talk with you about what to expect during the procedure and recovery process.

What Can I Expect at Pittsburgh Foot & Hand Center?

The Pittsburgh Foot and Hand Center will initially provide an exam, as well as prescribe a series of nonsurgical care guidelines to address carpal tunnel cases that are not severe or advanced. Where necessary, we can also prepare patients for any surgical procedures that will best address their condition.

Because every patient is different, specific questions about any diagnosis or surgery should always be discussed in-depth with your medical and/or surgical teams. That’s why we invite you to bring all of your questions to us during your visits, as well as by phone afterward if needed. We will gladly provide the information you need to make the right decision for your health needs.

In addition to Dr. Bowman’s expertise, our practice’s partnerships provide patients with the access they may need to additional care in the form of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and orthotists. Dr. Bowman - and, when needed, these partners - will constantly strive to provide a consistent and high level of nonoperative and postoperative care.