Education

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

carpal tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a hand condition caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the front side of the wrist. The median nerve controls strength and sensation of the thumb, index finger, middle finger and the thumb-side of ring finger. When compressed, it will result in pain, numbness and tingling sensation at the areas mentioned above. Weakness of the hand may also develop. Symptoms are often worse at night. The symptoms can be progressive, if left untreated.

Potential causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Anything that causes the space within the carpal tunnel to narrow, can compress the median nerve.
  • Direct injury to the nerve during trauma of the hand.
  • Overuse—causing inflammation of tendons inside carpal tunnel.
  • Hormone disorders which causes accumulation of body fluid inside carpal tunnel.
  • Sometimes the cause might be unclear.

Risk factors

  • Injury to the wrist that results in swelling, such as a sprain or a bone fracture
  • Having a history of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or disorders of some glands, such as the thyroid or pituitary gland
  • A cyst in the carpal tunnel
  • Pregnancy or menopause
  • Overweight
  • Activities or jobs that involve repetitive movements of the wrist and hand, or using machinery or tools that cause excessive vibration
  • Females are 3 times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men
  • A family history of carpal tunnel syndrome

Treatment

  • Use of a wrist splint at night and/or when performing repetitive activities that may cause increased inflammation.
  • Modification/reduction of aggravating activities and rest
  • Stretches
  • Monitored exercise
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets.
  • Injection of corticosteroid
  • Surgery may be required, especially if permanent numbness or weakness is worsening.

It is important that you consult a Doctor or Physiotherapist to establish a correct diagnosis and management/advice.