About Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
So there you are, working at your desk in Scottsdale, trying to ignore the tingling or numbness you’ve had for months in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through the wrist and up your arm. Is this wrist pain just a passing cramp? More likely, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS); a painful progressive condition caused by compression of a key wrist nerve.
CTS is the most common cause of nerve compression in the upper extremity. Over 1 million people are diagnosed with this nerve compression condition in the United States each year. Whether you have a clerical job in Phoenix or a construction job in Mesa, CTS can affect anyone. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness. Patients can have any or all of these wrist pain symptoms depending on which nerve fibers are compressed. What’s in a name? Well, the carpal tunnel is the passageway in the wrist that is made up of carpal bones (8 of them are in the wrist) and the ligament connecting everything (the transverse carpal ligament). The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through the narrow tunnel, which these structures form, and where the nerve compression can occur.
What’s happening? CTS occurs when the median nerve is compressed because of swelling within the carpal tunnel. This swelling within the tunnel can cause wrist pain and is often due to an increased amount of tissue surrounding the tendons, however, there are several conditions which can also increase the swelling and subsequent pressure within the carpal tunnel. This increased pressure not only decreases the function of the nerve, it often decreases the amount of blood flow supplied through the median nerve, which can lead to permanent nerve injury. How important is this? The median nerve provides sensation to part of the thumb, index, middle finger, and the ring finger. It also gives power to the muscles in the forearm and hand, which allow the hand to grasp. When this median nerve becomes compressed or pinched, then numbness, tingling, and pain of the affected fingers may occur and radiate into the forearm.