Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disease of the hand characterized by numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness. The disease typically affects the thumb, index, and middle fingers and is often particularly troublesome at night. A major nerve, specifically the median nerve, travels down the arm and enters the hand through the carpal tunnel, which is located in the central part of the wrist. In people with carpal tunnel syndrome, pressure in the carpal tunnel is higher than in unaffected people, and median nerve irritation occurs. It has many causes, and it is typical the numbness at night, when typing or when you use your wrists in the daily repetitive activities. The first line of treatment for mild carpal tunnel syndrome is to wear a wrist brace. This has been shown to relieve the symptoms from the carpal tunnel by placing the wrist in a neutral position and reducing the nerve irritation. Splinting is usually tried for a period of 4-6 weeks. Some people wear their splints at night only and others wear their splints both day and night, depending upon when the symptoms are at their worst. If carpal tunnel syndrome persists for a long time, permanent nerve injury is possible that will cause numbness and weakness in the hand. Treatment is directed at preservation of hand function. Anti-inflammatory medications such as “Motrin”, “Aleve” may provide some relief but they do not cure carpal tunnel syndrome. Direct local injection of corticosteroids by your doctor into the carpal canal has been shown to be an effective treatment for some people with mild carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a procedure that can be done in the doctor's office.
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