Reno Pain

Carpal Tunnel

Best Carpal Tunnel Doctors in Reno, Sparks and Carson City, Nevada.

Carpal Tunnel

Spending your days typing emails, writing letters, or using your hands and wrists for repeated motions might not seem like a problem, but it can – and does – add up. While most forms of wrist fatigue are normal and generally heal on their own, there is some time where the pain can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This not only can lead to pain, but it can also prevent a person from enjoying their standard quality of life. The Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas are able to help quickly and efficiently treat both the symptoms and the underlying condition that leads to carpal tunnel so patients can get back to their life, pain free. 


What Causes Carpal Tunnel? 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a health condition that leads to pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the hands and wrist. It is caused by a compression of the median nerve in the wrist. 


The carpal tunnel itself is a passageway located in the wrist bones that allows for tendons, ligaments and nerves to pass through and reach the hand. Carpal tunnel happens when something irritates or puts pressure on the medial nerve. The medial nerve helps a person move their forearm and is also responsible for bringing feelings to the palm side of the thumb and the first three fingers (not the pinkie). When the median nerve is damaged or pressed against the walls of the carpal tunnel, it can send incorrect or extra sensations to the hand and wrist. 


Over time, compression on the medial nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. It is a common condition that can affect anyone, but more commonly affects women. The most common causes and risk factors that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome include: 


  • Repetitive strain, flexing and stretching of the hand and wrist, usually from typing, reading, driving and holding a telephone
  • Fracture to the wrist, which usually involves swelling
  • Pregnancy or taking oral contraceptives that leads to swelling
  • Underlying nerve dysfunctions


Rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes are two conditions that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome but that are not associated with strain or trauma. These two conditions can lead to irritation in the tendons that can lead to compression of the median nerve. 


What Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Feel Like?

A person can certainly experience hand or wrist pain without having carpal tunnel syndrome. If you’re not sure if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, the most common symptoms include: 


  • Pain, numbness, weakness and tingling on the palm, the palm side of the thumb or the first three fingers
  • Decreased dexterity
  • Weakened grip
  • Sharp, burning or constant ache that feel like they’re coming from within the hand or wrist
  • Atrophy of muscles in the hand
  • Feelings of swelling in the hand
  • Feeling link the fingers “fell asleep,” which is especially felt in the fingertips
  • Inability to perform precise movements, like buttoning a button


Symptoms are most often felt at night after the wrist and hand have been used throughout the day, and could radiate up the arm as far as the shoulder. Carpal tunnel syndrome usually develops slowly with symptoms gradually getting worse over time and with use. 


How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

The first step in treating carpal tunnel syndrome is getting a diagnosis. Your provider will learn about your symptoms as well as perform a physical exam to determine if certain wrist and hand motions make the pain worse or better. If your diagnosis is positive, the good news is that most mild to moderate cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with lifestyle changes and conservative methods. 


The goal with all treatment is to reduce symptoms and prevent any further loss of movement or abilities. The first step is to address and improve lifestyle changes, which a person can do at home or work. These include: 


  • Minimize strain and repetitive motions as much as possible, or at least decrease the duration of these movements (i.e. taking a break from typing periodically)
  • Use a wrist splint to keep the wrist from over flexing or over extending
  • Decrease the duration of flexing or extending (i.e. use the speakerphone if you’re making calls all day)
  • Regularly stretch arms, wrists and hands
  • Implement ergonomic office tools into your office space, such as a special keyboard
  • Partnering with a physical therapist who can recommend exercises to strengthen the wrist muscles and improve flexibility


Once these have been addressed, the next step, if needed, is interventional treatments. Deep, pulsed ultrasound can help to decrease pain and promote tissue healing. Corticosteroids, either taken orally or injected into the carpal tunnel, can help to reduce inflammation and subsequent pain. 


If pain is still being felt after six months, or the symptoms continue to get worse, carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is the last treatment option. The goal of surgery is to surgically decompress the median nerve by creating more space within the tunnel itself. Surgery is a very effective treatment option for patients who have moderate to severe carpal tunnel syndrome.  


Carpal tunnel surgery is a minimally-invasive out-patient procedure, meaning that the patient can return home the same day. Surgery can either be performed via open incision or endoscopically. An open incision gives the provider a better view of the scope of the issue, but it takes longer to heal. Regardless of which option, the treatment involves making an incision (cut) in the ligament that connects the wrist to the palm, which is the transverse carpal ligament. This reduces tension and pressure on your carpal tunnel and gives the tendons and nerves more space.


Most patients report feeling pain relief as soon as treatment is started. For patients who underwent surgery, it might take a couple of weeks for healing to complete and the effects to be enjoyed, with symptoms continuing to gradually improve. 


While carpal tunnel syndrome cannot be completely avoided, especially when caused by health issues, it’s important to take precautionary measures now to avoid symptoms in the first place, or at least slow down the progression of symptoms. 


If you believe you might have carpal tunnel syndrome and would like more information about the best treatment options for you, please schedule an appointment today with the Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas. Our team can help to both get you out of pain and make recommendations for how you can avoid painful symptoms in the future.

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