Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition where there is increased pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The median nerve controls muscles and feeling in the hand. Pressure may come from overuse and swelling of ligaments in the wrist.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Steroid injections may damage your median nerve and the tissues around it. You may need more than 1 steroid injection to help decrease pain. Even after treatment, your symptoms may not go away, or they may come back. After surgery, your wrist may be sore and a scar may form. You may bleed more than expected during surgery. You may get an infection in your wrist after surgery.

  • Your CTS may get worse over time if it is not treated. The pain, numbness, tingling, or burning may get worse and last longer. Your hand and wrist may get weaker. You may have lasting nerve damage or paralysis (loss of feeling or movement) of your hand.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling and pain. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your caregiver which medicine is right for you and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.

  • Steroids: This injection helps decrease pain and swelling.

Tests:

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your wrist and hand. An MRI may show if you have CTS. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body.

Treatments:

  • Physical and occupational therapy: Physical therapists will show you ways to exercise and strengthen your wrist. Occupational therapists will show you safe ways to use your wrist while you do your usual activities.

  • Wrist splint: This keeps your wrist straight or in a slightly bent position. A wrist splint decreases pressure on the median nerve by letting your wrist rest. You may need to wear the splint for up to 8 weeks.

  • Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation: This treatment uses mild electrical impulses to help decrease your wrist pain.

  • Surgery: Carpal tunnel decompression is surgery to take pressure off of the median nerve in your wrist.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (Inpatient Care)

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