Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the tunnel in the wrist. This tunnel contains the tendons that enable us to bed our fingers and thumb.
CTS can cause a tingling sensation, numbness and even pain in the hand and fingers. It is most common in middle-aged women but can occur at any age in either sex.
In the early stages of CTS, symptoms are intermittent, and the hand soon returns to normal. Primary symptoms include an altered feeling in the hand described as pins and needles, weakness in the thumb, a dull ache and numbness in the hand and fingers (most commonly the index and middle fingers).
Symptoms can develop gradually, and become worse during the night giving sufferers a restless night of sleep leading to fatigue. During the day patients feel clumsy as they can easily drop things as they find it difficult to grip objects firmly.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be triggered by other conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis and even pregnancy. It is also caused by an inflammation of the tendons, a wrist fracture or arthritis of the wrist.
A CTS diagnosis involves nerve conduction tests, and sometimes blood tests and x-rays are required.
If your symptoms are mild then conservative measures such as a split can be trialled. For those suffering from CTS during pregnancy, the condition will often resolve after childbirth.
The surgical option, involves opening the roof of the tunnel to reduce the pressure on the nerve. An incision is made in the tunnel at the wrist, opening the roof under direct vision. Surgery is performed under local anaesthesia, regional anaesthesia (injected at the shoulder to numb the entire arm) or general anaesthesia.
Following surgery, numbness, pain, and tingling usually resolve within a few days. It takes approximately 12 weeks to regain full strength and mobility.