Care and Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Why Choose Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at University of Colorado Hospital?
University of Colorado Hospital has the only Hand Center in the region that is part of an academic medical center.
Our Hand Center doctors have written textbook chapters on hand diseases, including carpal tunnel syndrome, and contribute to research about the condition and its treatment approaches.
Hand Center physicians hold Certificates of Added Quality in Surgery of the Hand and practice hand surgery full time.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow opening at the base of the hand that houses nerves and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand through the carpal tunnel, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This can result in pain, weakness or numbness in the hand and wrist. Often, the pain travels up the arm.
Symptoms generally appear during a person’s sleep. As symptoms worsen, people feel frequent burning, tingling or numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers.
A number of factors may contribute to a person developing carpal tunnel syndrome. These include repetitive use, injury and physical characteristics.
Other health conditions also may cause carpal tunnel syndrome. These can include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hormonal disorders
Carpal tunnel syndrome generally affects adults only, and women are three times more likely than men to develop the condition.
Living with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is not confined to a single industry or job. As symptoms worsen, people with carpal tunnel often feel burning, tingling or numbness in their hands during the day and at night. It can become difficult to perform everyday tasks. A decreased strength in a person’s grip can make it difficult to form a fist and grasp small objects. In some cases, it is difficult to tell between hot and cold.
At the workplace, workers can do conditioning exercises to decrease symptoms. These can include:
- Stretching exercises
- Taking frequent breaks
- Wearing splints
- Using correct posture and wrist position
Workstations, tools and tasks can be redesigned to allow a worker’s wrists to maintain a natural position. Non-operative treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include splinting at night and steroid injections into the carpal tunnel. In many cases, surgery provides the most effective relief. The chances of carpal tunnel recurring after surgery are low.
Getting a Second Opinion about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause nerve and muscle damage.
If symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are interfering with your everyday activities, including sleep, please see a doctor who has special training in hand surgery.
Additional Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Resources
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
OSHA's mission is to assure the safety and health of America 's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.
Tests and Treatments
Carpal tunnel syndrome is most often diagnosed by a physical examination and the patient’s report of symptoms.
Electromyography Nerve Conduction Velocity Study (EMG). A test that evaluates the health of the muscles, and the nerves that control the muscles.
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Night-Time Splinting. Keeps the wrist in a neutral position to prevent flexing or moving the wrist during sleep.
- Steroid Injection. A steroid is injected into the carpal tunnel to reduce inflammation; this usually provides temporary relief, unless surgery is not an option.
- Surgery. If the EMG findings are positive for nerve compression, the preferred treatment is surgery to release the carpal tunnel.
- Occupational Therapy. Helps patients improve daily functions and use of the hand and wrist.
- Exercises. Exercises, such as nerve glides, improve the elasticity of the nerve.
UCH Facilities that Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Hand Center at UCH
Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion
All of our hand surgeons are board certified in either orthopaedic surgery or plastic surgery.