Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment from Drexel Neurosciences Institute
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which there is compression of the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the hand, wrist and fingers.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are several tests performed at the Drexel Medicine that are useful in the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome:
Ultrasound uses sound waves to provide real-time, high-resolution images of muscles and nerves throughout the body without causing pain to the patient. Ultrasound is used to diagnose a wide range of nerve and muscle disorders including carpal tunnel syndrome.
An electromyography (EMG) test measures the electrical activity of a muscle. An EMG provides information about the muscle itself and also shows how well it is connected to and receives stimulation from its nerve. A nerve conduction study is usually done at the same time as an EMG. It detects any signs of nerve fiber loss as well as blocking or slowing down of responses to nerve stimulation.
An EMG is often used to evaluate unexplained muscle weakness, twitching or paralysis, and to find the causes of numbness, tingling and pain, such as that experienced by patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. During an EMG, a physician inserts a very fine needle, which serves as a recording electrode, through the skin into the muscle. With the electrode in place, the patient is asked to slowly contract the muscle—for example, by bending the arm—with gradually increasing force, while the electrical activity is being recorded. Patients may feel some discomfort during the test.
Nerve Conduction Studies (EMG/NCS)
A nerve conduction study (sometimes called a nerve velocity test) measures how quickly electrical impulses move along a nerve. A healthy nerve conducts signals with greater speed and strength than a damaged nerve. A nerve conduction study is often done at the same time as an electromyography test, in order to exclude or detect nerve and muscle disorders. During the test, flat electrodes are placed on the skin at intervals over the nerve that is being examined. A low-intensity electric current is introduced to stimulate the nerves with the resulting signal recorded by the electrodes placed on the skin.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Wearing a special wrist brace that prevents bending at the wrist can help with the milder cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. In more severe cases, a surgical procedure called carpal tunnel release can provide long lasting improvement and prevents further nerve damage. In addition, many patients experience temporary relief with the administration of steroid injections. Carpal tunnel steroid injection at the wrist is used to treat the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome by injecting a steroid solution into the bursa surrounding the median nerve. Injected corticosteroids appear effective in reducing subjective symptoms for 1-3 months. Repeated corticosteroid injections, however, are not recommended.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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