Carpal Tunnel, Cubital Tunnel Syndromes, and Neuropathy
When you hear the term “tunnel syndrome”, you may automatically think of carpal tunnel syndrome since it has become such a common condition. There are also other tunnel syndromes that we will explain below. All of these conditions are caused by pressure that is placed on the nerves in the hand, wrist, and arm.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (also known as “Ulnar Neuropathy”) is numbness and pain in the elbows and fingers that is caused primarily by pressure repeatedly being placed on the ulnar nerve, which is located near the “funny bone” part of the elbow. This can be caused by repeatedly leaning on the elbow or by repetitive use that is taxing on this area of the arm, like pitching in baseball.
Radial Tunnel Syndrome Is caused by increased pressure on the radial nerve. This nerve runs through the elbow and the forearm. Common symptoms include pain in the forearm and the back of the hand. This pain often appears when the person goes to straighten out the wrist and the fingers.
Peripheral Neuropathy is tingling, numbness, and pain that can occur in the hands and feet, due to damage to the peripheral nerves. This damage can be caused by traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic conditions, alcoholism, and more. A gradual onset of numbness, stabbing pain, sensitivity to touch, and muscle weakness are all possible symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. This nerve runs through the carpal tunnel and controls the thumb and all of the fingers (with the exception of the pinky). With the rise of computers and typing for both more work and pleasure, carpal tunnel has become more common. Repetitive use of the wrist, especially in actions when your hand is lower than your wrist, is the most common cause, with hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis also being possible causes.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve experiences compression in the area of the wrist. Symptoms may consist of numbness and tingling in the thumb and fingers, weak grip strength, and difficulty engaging the hand in every day activities, nighttime awakening due to pain or numbness. Often times, a patient may experience difficulty with fine motor activities such as buttoning clothing, knitting, knot tying, and picking up small objects.
Risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome include prediabetes, diabetes, obesity, thyroid disease, and pregnancy. Localized pressure from tumors and cysts such as lipomas and ganglions are an extrinsic cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some work related causes of carpal tunnel syndrome have also been described, particularly work tasks that involve repetitive actions, vibrations, and certain prolonged wrist postures such as keyboard typing.
Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is often initiated with non-surgical modalities such as temporary wrist immobilization, improved ergonomic wrist postures, and anti-inflammatory medications. Patients that have no relief with non-surgical treatment, and patients with evidence of constant nerve compression with loss of muscle tone, may opt for surgical release of the transverse carpal tunnel ligament. Surgery relieves the compression on the medial nerve, and results in a more permanent relief of nerve compression.
Dr. Hahn has cared for many patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, and has performed the surgery hundreds of times. Should you suspect that you are inflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome, numbness, pain, or hand weakness, please make an appointment. Dr. Hahn is accepting new patients, and is eager to address his patient’s discomforts, and allow them to resume their hobbies, work responsibilities, and improve the quality of their life.