published Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

ASK A DOCTOR

Q: What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

A: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a pinched nerve in the wrist. As the median nerve in the wrist becomes more compressed, symptoms of wrist pain, numbness and tingling in the first three fingers and a sense of clumsiness worsen. Some of the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and auto- immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Initial manage-ment of carpal tunnel syndrome includes a thorough physical examination, splinting and a course of anti-inflammatory medication. If symptoms persist, a nerve conduction velocity might be ordered. This is a test that checks how quickly the nerves move sensory information to the brain. If this is positive and symptoms are significant, then a carpal tunnel release may be recommended. This surgical intervention creates a small incision in the palm of the hand. Through this incision, the ligament that is compressing the nerve is divided, effectively relieving the "pinch" and the symptoms.

-- Dr. Mark Brzezienski, The Plastic Surgery Group; member, Chattanooga/Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for a medical doctor, e-mail it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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