One of the nerves of the wrist called the “median nerve” passes through a tunnel in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. When individuals put pressure on their wrists the median nerve can get inflamed irritated or damaged. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive pressure on the wrist and/or injury at the wrist.
A physician will ask the athlete specific questions about symptoms and perform a careful physical examination looking for damage to the nerve. A sports medicine physician will evaluate factors that may make the athlete more prone to getting the condition. He or she may recommend changes specific to the athlete’s activity, like frequent hand repositioning, using a different racquet for tennis players, changing golf swing technique for golfers, or changing handlebar positions for cyclists. Simply adding padding may also help. Treatment typically involves rest; further medical intervention is often unnecessary. Wrist splints may be worn at night to help with nerve healing. However, if symptoms persist for more than two weeks, or worsen, individuals should consult a medical professional for further evaluation. Although symptoms are rarely permanent, if numbness or weakness of the hand has developed, recovery can take a long time. Injections or surgery may be indicated in more severe cases.