MedStar Orthopaedic Institute is home to an experienced team of hand and wrist experts who provide comprehensive hand and wrist care for any condition. All of our hand surgeons are fellowship-trained and focus exclusively on upper extremity conditions. We are the prime referral center for the most complex orthopedic hand conditions in Washington, D.C., and we perform thousands of hand surgeries each year.
Our dedicated team of doctors will always take time to talk with you about your specific condition, answer all of your questions, and explain your treatment options. We recommend conservative treatment options whenever possible. But if needed, we provide the most advanced surgery available.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist where a nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. The syndrome is a type of hand nerve entrapment that occurs when swelling in the tunnel compresses the median nerve.
What are the causes?
Genetics are thought to play a role and this condition is common in people who perform repetitive wrist and hand motions, including the following:
- Typing on a computer keyboard
- Gripping tightly
- Meat cutters
- Using wrists consistently
What are the symptoms?
As a result of the pressure on the median nerve, patients with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience symptoms including:
- Numbness and tingling in the fingers
- Night-time awakening because of tingling and pain
- Pain in the hand and fingers, that can radiate up the arm
- Sensation that the hand is swollen, even if it is not
- Weakened grip and difficulty picking up small items
- Problems with fine finger movements in one or both hands
How is it diagnosed?
The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute are experts at diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. Our initial exam serves to rule out other possible causes of your pain and determine the best relief options. Our team will generally perform the following during your exam:
- Medical history evaluation – This includes asking questions about when your pain began and where the pain feels most severe. Other questions may be about whether you have other medical problems, and if you take any medications.
- Physical exam – Your orthopedist will carefully examine your hand and press the affected nerve to test your response.
- Electrophysiological tests – Your doctor can confirm a diagnosis by sending small electric shocks into the affected area to see how the nerve responds.
- Imaging tests – In some cases, your orthopedist may want to examine the bones in your wrist more carefully using X-rays.
What are the best treatment options?
Many nonsurgical courses of treatment for are available, such as:
- Splints or braces to immobilize and rest the wrist
- Adjustments to how you perform daily activities
- Oral anti-inflammatory medications
- Steroid injections
If nonsurgical treatment is not successful or treatment is sought too late, surgery may be required. Carpal tunnel release surgery involves enlarging the carpal tunnel, which will relieve the swelling and pressure on the nerve.
If you believe you may be suffering from this condition, call 202-295-0511 to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute. Our doctors have years of experience diagnosing and treating hand and wrist conditions in the Washington, D.C. area.