What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome refers to the space formed in the wrist by the bones and ligaments through which the tendons to the fingers pass. This space contains the median nerve that controls the movement of the thumb and the feeling that occurs in your thumb, index and middle fingers.
What is the cause?
There is no one cause but it may be due to a build up of retention of fluid. It can also occur after a fracture in the wrist where the position of the bone has been altered.
It may also be associated with diabetes or an underactive thyroid. It is most common in women and can affect all ages.
What are the symptoms?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is evident by pain, tingling, numbness of the thumb, index and middle fingers and can be worse at night. This can affect your sleeping. Occasionally the whole of the hand and forearm may be affected.
If present for a long period of time the muscles around the thumb can waste away causing your grip to become weakened.
What is the treatment?
Mild symptoms may go away by themselves, for example, after pregnancy or after a flare up of arthritis.
In some cases your doctor may give you a splint to wear and you may be referred to a physiotherapist. Steroid injections may also be given into the carpal tunnel to relieve symptoms.
In more severe cases surgery may be carried out under local anaesthetic to release pressure on the nerve. This procedure usually resolves symptoms quickly and only leaves a small scar.
As with any surgical procedure you will be advised by your surgeon how best to support rapid healing and rehabilitation.