If you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), you know it can be painful and may result in nerve damage. CTS is a condition that happens when the main nerve running from the forearm to the palm (also known as the median nerve) is squeezed or pressed at the wrist. You may experience tingling, burning, or numbness in the palm of your hand or fingers, and you may experience pain that can become debilitating. If this occurs, it’s possible that you can receive Social Security disability benefits if the symptoms make it impossible for you to work.
How to Treat CTS
There are a variety of treatment options for CTS—some surgical; some non-surgical. The goal is to get you back to your normal work and activity routines and prevent nerve damage.
- Use a wrist splint. You can treat your CTS by wearing a wrist splint—a fingerless, glove-like brace. This brace stabilizes your wrist and helps decrease the pressure on the median nerve. A wrist splint is a short-term treatment option that’s available at many drugstores.
- Avoid harmful activities. Your doctor may advise you to rest the injured hand and wrist and avoid activities that will aggravate the symptoms. He may recommend using cool packs if there is inflammation or swelling.
- Exercise the wrist and hand. With the help of a physical therapist, stretching, range-of-motion, and strengthening exercises can help treat CTS once symptoms have decreased.
- Consider medication. For some people who suffer with CTS, certain medications can help decrease pain and swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other nonprescription pain relievers may help relieve some CTS symptoms. A corticosteroid injection into the carpal tunnel is also an option in some cases.
Carpal tunnel surgery is sometimes an option for CTS if other treatments haven’t helped, if you have nerve damage, or you’ve been dealing with CTS for an extended period of time. It’s a common surgical procedure and does not usually involve staying overnight at the hospital. There are two basic types of carpal tunnel surgery:
- Open release surgery. The surgeon will make an incision about two inches in the wrist and then cut the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. This is the traditional procedure for CTS and is usually performed on an outpatient basis.
- Endoscopic surgery. The surgeon will make an incision in the wrist and palm, insert a camera to observe the tissues, and cut the carpal ligament. This procedure may allow you to recover faster and have less postoperative pain than open release surgery. It also minimizes scarring and the pain associated with scarring.
It often takes months to fully recover from carpal tunnel surgery, but recurrence of CTS after treatment is rare. Most patients will have a complete recovery.
If you’ve been diagnosed with CTS that’s making it impossible to work, contact us at 402-933-5405. We will discuss your case and help determine your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.