Carpal tunnel syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage in your wrist made up of small bones and a tough band of tissue. It acts as a pulley for the tendons that bend the fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a relatively common condition that causes pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers due to irritation of the median nerve in this tunnel.
What causes the problem
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the nerve that controls sensation and movement in the hands. Generally the cause for median nerve compression is unknown. However, it is commonly reported in:
- People with a family history of CTS
- Up to 50% of pregnant woman
- Injuries to the wrist from fall on the outstretched hand
- General health conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
- Strenuous, repetitive work with the hand
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Typically pins & needles waking you up from sleep at night
- Pins & needles relieved by shaking your hands
- Dull aching in your hands
How do I manage this problem?
- In most cases carpal tunnel improves on its own with relative rest
- Using wrist pads while using computer
- Stretching the forearm muscles may also help improve your symptoms
- Simple over the counter medications from your chemist to control the inflammation may reduce the symptoms
- In pregnant women it usually improves on its own 3 months after giving birth
What treatments are available?
- Wrist splints, to keep your wrist in neutral position at night, are beneficial in most cases. This must be used for at least 3 months regularly at night
- Steroid injections into this area may help to alleviate the symptoms
- When you have weakness of your hand or loss of muscle bulk in your hand you may need further investigation