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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • What is Carpal Tunnel?

    There is a tunnel in the wrist called the Carpal (wrist) Tunnel. Nine tendons and the median nerve pass through the tunnel. When pressure builds up in the tunnel, the nerve gets squeezed and is unable to function properly. This may result in numbness, discomfort and pain in the fingers.

  • There are several causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

    • A previous wrist fracture may cause narrowing of the Carpal Tunnel.
    • Diabetes Ellitus and some rare hormonal conditions can be a risk factor.
    • Family members with the condition can be a risk factor.
    • Fluid retention can cause swelling of tissues in the Carpal Tunnel.
    • Inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause the lining of the joints and tendons in the Carpal Tunnel to swell.
    • Obese people are more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
    • Older age can cause changes in the soft
tissue or bony structures of the wrist.
    • Women are more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than men.
  • Symptoms usually include pain, numbness or tingling in your hand and fingers. The symptoms can occur while doing simple tasks such as holding the telephone or reading the newspaper. You may have a weak grip.

  • When the symptoms are still mild, treatment may include:

    • Medication such as vitamin B6 and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs
    • Minimising wrist movement
    • Oral diuretics or steroid injections to reduce the swelling of the tissues
    • Splints or braces to relieve the pain

    Surgery to divide the fibres (Transverse Carpal Ligament) that press down on the nerve may be helpful. The surgery is often done under local anaesthesia. Keyhole or ‘Minimally Invasive Surgery’, with its advantages of a small incision and shorter recovery, may be offered.

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