Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of peripheral neuropathy. It results from compression of the median nerves under the transverse carpal ligament at the wrist.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

Predisposing conditions for developing the syndrome include:

  • injury or fracture of the bones in the wrist
  • arthritis
  • obesity
  • pregnancy

Repetitive movements of the wrist can cause carpal tunnel syndrome to develop. This includes placing the wrist in abnormal positions.

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

The symptoms are usually of pain along the middle and index finger. This may be accompanied with tingling or numbness. In advanced cases there might associated muscle weakness or atrophy.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis

Diagnosis of this condition is a combination of clinical confirmation and relevant testing. A clinical diagnosis is based on the history of the symptoms and the findings of an examination. The confirmatory diagnosis is to perform a nerve conduction and EMG study. This is usually done by a neurologist.

Carpal Tunnel Treatment

Conservative treatment options are to avoid activities which cause irritation to the nerve. Other options that me be discussed are splinting and hand physiotherapy.

Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Generally, surgical treatment is reserved for:

  • patients who have symptoms which are unresponsive to conservative treatment
  • patients who have a nerve conduction study report that suggests there is moderate to severe compression on to the median nerve

Surgery can be performed under a local or general anaesthesia. It involves making a small incision in the wrist. The surgeon then divides the transverse carpal ligament to achieve decompression of the median nerve.


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