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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

    The carpal tunnel in the wrist holds 9 tendons and the median nerve. When pressure builds up in the tunnel, the nerve gets squeezed and is unable to work properly. This may result in numbness, discomfort and pain in the fingers.

  • There are several causes and risk factors of carpal tunnel syndrome:

    • A previous wrist fracture may cause narrowing of the carpal tunnel.
    • Diabetes mellitus and some rare hormonal conditions can pose risk factors.
    • Family members with the condition can be a risk factor.
    • Fluid retention can cause swelling of tissues in the carpal tunnel.
    • Inflammatory (swelling) conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause the lining of joints and tendons in the carpal tunnel to swell.
    • Obese people are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
    • Age can cause changes in the soft tissue or bony structures of the wrist, leading to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
    • Women are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men.
  • Symptoms usually include pain, numbness or tingling in your hands and fingers. Symptoms can occur while doing simple tasks like holding the telephone or reading the newspaper. You may also have a weak grip.

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

    • Medication (eg. vitamin B6 and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
    • Reducing wrist movement
    • Oral steroid medication or steroid injections to reduce the swelling of tissues
    • Splints or braces to relieve pain

    Carpal tunnel release is a surgery that divides the transverse carpal ligament (fibres on the palm near the wrist) pressing down on the nerve and is often done under local anaesthesia. This can be done as a keyhole surgery which only requires a small cut. This will result in quicker recovery as compared to the traditional open surgery.

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