Carpal tunnel syndrome—characterized by numbness and tingling in your fingers and thumb—can make it difficult to chop vegetables, button a shirt, and even navigate the touch screen on your cell phone. It can also affect your ability to work. Caused by compression of a major nerve in the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve problem in the United States.
While it is not clear why some people are prone to this nerve compression, there are a number of factors associated with it, including age, diabetes, renal failure, pregnancy, menopause, and overuse. It occurs more often in women than in men.
“Carpal tunnel treatment has progressed from surgery requiring an overnight stay in the hospital to a quick minimally invasive outpatient procedure under local anesthesia,” says J. Grant Thomson, MD, director of Yale Medicine Hand & Microsurgery. “While it is important to understand the risks and benefits of any procedure, patients should not be apprehensive about the surgical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. If treated early, patients can enjoy a return of normal hand function, improved sleep, and less pain.”