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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Diagnosis & Treatment

Dr. Pamela Mehta, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon, San Jose

Table of Contents

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common hand & wrist conditions. Many people will experience it in their lifetime.

Nerve compression leads to pain and numbness in your hand. Without early medical intervention, you may end up requiring wrist surgery.

The cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on the median nerve as it passes through your wrist. At first, you may notice a minor tingling in your fingers, but as time goes on the compression gradually worsens. Classic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Numbness or tingling in your thumb and first two fingers
  • Sudden jolts felt in the thumb, index and middle fingers
  • Weakness in your hand that might lead to you feeling clumsy and dropping objects

Carpal tunnel syndrome can become debilitating over time. It can restrict you from performing simple tasks like writing, cooking, or typing due to pain and weakness.

Sometimes you will require surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome pain

Carpal Tunnel vs Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition indicated by pressure onto the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. Compression of the median nerve causes symptoms such as:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness

The symptoms primarily affect your thumb and fingers (thumb, index finger, and middle finger).

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome, on the other hand, is defined as a neuropathy of the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve is a nerve that controls feeling and movement in your hand, ring finger, and pinky finger.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is characterized by pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve. This causes symptoms such as numbness and shooting pain in the following areas:

  • Inner part of your forearm
  • Fourth (ring) finger
  • Pinky finger

The Difference

The main difference between carpal tunnel vs. cubital tunnel is in the affected nerves and their location:

  • Carpal tunnel involves compression of the median nerve at your wrist
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome affects the ulnar nerve location at your elbow.

You can tell these conditions apart based on where you feel the pain.

Carpal tunnel vs cubital tunnel difference

For instance, carpal tunnel causes pain, numbness, or tingling in your:

  • Thumb
  • Index finger
  • Long (middle) finger

A cubital tunnel affects the ring finger and pinky finger.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common than cubital tunnel. Estimates show that between 1% and 5% of the general population has carpal tunnel syndrome. Cubital tunnel syndrome is 13 times less common compared to carpal tunnel syndrome. Numbers show that cubital syndrome affects approximately 1.8% of the U.S. population

Book a Consultation with Dr. Pamela Mehta, MD

The Best Orthopedic Surgeon in San Jose

Dr. Mehta is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who can help you recover from your joint condition.

We can help if you:


The diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome requires expert evaluation by a specialist. There are several other conditions which mimic carpal tunnel syndrome, such as:

It’s important that you get the correct diagnostic tests. Appropriate tests can include:

  • A thorough physical exam to test the nerves in the hand and the motion at the wrist
  • An X-ray to help rule out other conditions
  • Electrophysiological tests including nerve conduction studies and electromyogram
Carpal tunnel syndrome nerve pain


After getting a diagnosis from a specialist, there are several ways you can improve your symptoms. At Resilience Orthopedics we will help you explore all your non-surgical options. These can include:

  • Carpal tunnel exercises, under supervision of an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist
  • Carpal tunnel brace or splint, to help reduce the pressure on your median nerve
  • Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation

If your symptoms are severe or not improving, you may require surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. This is called carpal tunnel release and reduces the pressure on your median nerve at the wrist.


Jackie J
San Francisco, CA
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“Over the past year, I came to see Dr. Mehta, who is one of the best doctors in the bay area. Not only generous with her time but listens and is incredibly helpful. She is friendly and eager to please all her patients. She continues to be available and explains all her recommendations in detail. I did extremely well under her care. I really appreciate a doctor, who insists on getting all the information before making the final solution to surgery.Dr. Mehta has so much confidence that she made me feel immediately comfortable from my consultation. She answers all my questions and never rushed me out of the office for the next patient.Thank you so much for your commitment in helping others feel a hundred percent better.”
Roxanna Keyani
Google Review
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“Dr. Mehta treated our son for a broken knee a year ago. Upon meeting her, we knew that we were in good hands. She exudes confidence, intelligence, as well as compassion. This was a complicated surgery, but we were confident and comfortable every step of the way. We felt that she gave our son the best care, answered every question, let us get in touch with her after hours with questions, and most importantly led him to a full recovery. Dr. Mehta is intelligent and kind, and a true gem.”

What Hand & Wrist Services Do We Offer?

Hand & Wrist Pain Assessment

We use our hands every day of our lives for some of the most important of life's activities. Hand and wrist pain can be debilitating, meaning you struggle to drive, write, and play sports.

Hand & Wrist Surgery

If your hand condition is severe, or nothing you have tried has helped, Dr. Mehta can advise you on the options for surgery. She is a hand surgeon and can offer expert opinion and care.

Treatment of Hand & Wrist Conditions


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes pain and numbness in your hand, and sometimes requires surgery.

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis causes swelling and pain at the base of your thumb.

Wrist Bursitis

Wrist bursitis can cause pain and stiffness if your wrist. Treatment is often non-surgical.

& Many More

Dr. Mehta is experienced in hand and wrist surgery and non-surgical treatments.

Dr. Mehta offers diagnosis and treatment of all hand & wrist conditions and can offer her specialist opinion as an expert hand doctor.