The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligaments and bones at the base of the hand/wrist, which houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed leading to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is characterised by a numbness, tingling and pain in the thumb and fingers of the hand, and in some cases the ability to grip with the hand is significantly reduced. Women are 3 times more likely than men to develop CTS, possibly because the carpal tunnel is more commonly smaller in women than men.
Common causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Below you will find a non-exhaustive list of some of the most common causes of CTS:
- Trauma or injury to the wrist that cause swelling, such as sprain or fracture.
- Overuse of the wrist.
- Fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause.
- Pathologies such as diabetes, overactive pituitary gland, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis.
- Excessive use of keyboards and video games.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome depends on the severity of the nerve damage and your preferences. In some cases, it may improve after a few months without the need for treatment.
- Avoid any activities that make your symptoms worse.
- If you work with computers, there is little evidence to suggest that adjustments to work stations will alleviate symptoms of CTS.
- If symptoms persist, there are a range of non-surgical treatments (wrist splints, corticosteroid tablets or injections, etc…) available that aim to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
- Surgery is normally a last resort measure.