The nerve that supplies sensation to the thumb and fingers comes from the neck and runs through a tunnel called the carpal tunnel which when under pressure can cause pain.
What are the symptoms?
You may experience pins and needles, tingling, waking from sleep in pain and occasionally you can lose sensation in your fingers as well as having pain radiating up your arm and weakness, for example, you may struggle to do up buttons. Generally, carpal tunnel can cause any radiated pain along the nerve tract so you may also experience shoulder or neck pain.
What investigations are needed?
Generally carpal tunnel is diagnosed with a clinical diagnosis, which means through your symptoms and signs on examination. We can also do a nerve test to look at how quick the nerve impulse works as it may be slower with a blockage.
What does treatment look like?
With the early onset of carpal tunnel you could try and prevent your wrist from being fully flexed or fully extended and can wear a wrist splint for that, as well as avoiding certain activities that trigger symptoms.
However, if symptoms progress we can look at steroid injections to help ease the pain. Injections are a good short term pain relief solution but they do not cure the problem, meaning the condition will either ease of its own accord or worsen, in which case we can look at carpal tunnel release surgery.
Administered under local anaesthetic and in as little as 15 minutes, a small incision is made down the front of the palm and the sheath over the nerve is released which gives the nerve a bit more space to move, which in turn eases the painful symptoms associated with the condition.
The wound is usually healed within 2 weeks and after this you could start to drive again and begin to get back into your daily life.