What’s Bilateral Carpal Tunnel?

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Bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by overuse of the hands and wrists during certain activities. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain, and treatment options include medication, splints, ultrasound, and surgery.

Bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed in the carpal tunnel of both wrists at the same time. It is thought to be a repetitive strain injury caused by overuse of the hands and wrists during certain activities, such as typing on a computer keyboard. Arthritis and obesity may also play a role in the development of the condition. Treatment uses medications, splints, or braces to immobilize the wrist, as well as surgery to cut the transverse carpal ligament.

Symptoms of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome may present initially as numbness or tingling in the fingers. Most of the swelling of the hands and fingers associated with carpal tunnel syndrome occurs at night when the fingers curl into fists. This results in increased nighttime wakefulness due to pain and numbness caused by pressure on the median nerve.

Some people with this syndrome report a burning sensation along the fingers and in the wrist. Numbness and pain can travel up the arm and into the shoulder over time. A person may lose the ability to open and close their hands as the condition progresses.

Treatment for bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms. Steroid injections may be able to treat pain and improve range of motion for some people. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to reduce pain. Most doctors recommend wearing a splint or splint at night to keep your hands from clenching while you sleep. Keeping the wrist straight increases the size of the space within the carpal tunnel, reducing pressure on the median nerve.

Ultrasound treatment can be helpful in treating pain and numbness for some people. During this procedure, the wrist is exposed to ultrasound waves for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Many people report relief from bilateral carpal tunnel symptoms after a few treatment sessions.

Surgery may be necessary for some people who are unable to get any relief with other methods. The surgeon will make an incision in the wrist to expose the median nerve, tendons and ligaments that run through the carpal tunnel. Another incision is made in the palm to reveal the end of the carpal tunnel process. The surgeon will then make a cut in the transverse carpal ligament, relieving the pressure inside the carpal tunnel. Most people get significant pain and numbness relief after surgery.

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