Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through an opening from the wrist to the hand called the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is formed by the carpal bones on the bottom of the wrist and the transverse carpal ligament across the top of the wrist. Since the median nerve provides sensory and motor functions to the thumb and three middle fingers, many symptoms may result including:
Weakness when gripping the hand
Pain and/or numbness in the hand
A "pins and needles" feeling in the fingers
Swollen feeling in the fingers
Burning or tingling in the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers
Pain and/or numbness that is worse at night, interrupting sleep
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome have no specific cause, although there are a few factors that may contribute to the condition:
Frequent, repetitive, small movements with the hands (such as with using a keyboard)
Frequent, repetitive, grasping movements with the hands (such as with sports and certain physical activities)
Joint or bone disease (arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis)
Hormonal or metabolic changes (for example, menopause, pregnancy, or thyroid imbalance)
Changes in blood-sugar levels (may be seen with type 2 diabetes)
Other conditions or injuries of the wrist (for example, strain, sprain, dislocation, break, or swelling and inflammation)
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, electrodiagnostic tests involving stimulation of muscles and nerves are used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.
In addition to carpal tunnel syndrome, surgeons in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Hand and Upper Extremity Service and the Division of Plastic Surgery treat the full spectrum of diseases of the hand. The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery also treats conditions of the upper extremity (shoulder, arm, elbow, and wrist), including fractures, tumors, ligament disruptions and tendonitis, helping thousands of patients every year.
BWH has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care - involves systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment.
Quality of Patient Care
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our inpatient satisfaction survey, sent to patients’ to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and areas for improvement. We pride ourselves in the quality of patient care we provide and how we are measured compared with other hospitals.
If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our carpal tunnel syndrome experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.