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Could I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition which occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The carpal tunnel—a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand—houses the median nerve and the tendons that bend the fingers.

Here Mr Shyamalan answers your questions:

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Common symptoms include numbness and tingling in the thumb and sometimes half of the ring finger, index and middle finger (the little finger usually feels normal), as well as pins and needles, there may be a ‘dead’ feeling and waking up at night with the occasional electric shock feeling up the fingers and arm.
In severe compression you may lose feeling in the fingers altogether. You may also find you are dropping things and struggling to do fine movements such as buttoning your shirt or undoing your bra strap.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

Unfortunately, the cause is unknown. It is more common with age but can be related to conditions that cause increased fluid such as obesity, pregnancy, arthritis, and certain inflammation as well as diabetes.

What happens if I don’t get carpal tunnel treated?

In general, carpal tunnel can improve on its own when it is in the early stages, However, it can continue to be irritable and progress and worsen. We tend to wait at least 3 - 6 months to see how symptoms improve or progress.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may ease over time but in some cases it is possible to experience a decrease in grip strength, burning and cramping sensation, muscle wastage and weakness, and shooting pains up the forearm.

What is the treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Non-invasive treatments available are the use of splints or steroid injections.

  • Splint

You can use a wrist splint to stop the wrist bending which can be worn at night to reduce the symptoms.

If splint doesn't help then an injection can be given.

  • Injection

Steroid injections are good for improving pain relief and symptoms such as pins and needles.
However, it does not cure carpal tunnel, and the symptoms can come back after a period of time.

Injections are also a very good diagnostic test as those who respond well to an injection, tend to have a good result with surgical treatment.

  • Carpal Tunnel Release

If non operative treatment has not worked for you, you will be offered carpal tunnel release.

There is a broad flat ligament over the nerve which forms the roof of the tunnel which is opened during surgery.

This is done under local anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes, and you are discharged after the procedure.

We close the wound with dissolvable stitches and keep it clean and dry for two weeks and protected with a soft bandage.

Early use of the fingers and hand are encouraged immediately after the surgery, but heavy manual labour should be avoided until the wound has fully healed and hand strength has returned.

Once the wound has healed, the scar should be gently massaged to improve the scar.


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