Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Hand numbness and tingling affects people of all ages. It often occurs from compression of a nerve near the neck or somewhere in the hand or arm. Compression of a nerve can result in a loss of strength, numbness and tingling, pain, and an inability to do work.

Symptoms

Patients with compression of a nerve often complain of:

  • Pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or arm
  • Worsening of symptoms when driving
  • Weakness in grip
  • Frequently dropping of objects
  • Difficulty sleeping due to pain or numbness in the hand

Diagnosis

Evaluation of a patient with the above symptoms begins with a careful physical exam. Often, additional testing is needed to more accurately diagnose the exact cause of the pain and numbness. This may include specialized studies to evaluate the nerves in the hand and arm. Common causes of nerve compression include carpal tunnel syndrome (nerve compression at the wrist) and cubital tunnel syndrome (nerve compression at the elbow).

Learn more about carpal tunnel in the video below:

Learn more about cubital tunnel:

Treatment

A variety of treatment options exist for treating carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes. Treatment typically begins with nonoperative treatment modalities, such as:

  • Wearing splints at night
  • Modifying activities and work spaces
  • Steroid injections

If nonoperative measures fail, surgery may give substantial relief to patients with persistent or longstanding symptoms. The need for and timing of surgery is tailored to each patient, but evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon is an important first step to establish the diagnosis and hopefully improve quality of life.

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