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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a very common condition in which the patient complains of tingling, numbness, weakness and pain in the hand (sometimes spreading into the forearm).

It is caused by compression of a nerve (Median nerve) as it travels from the forearm into the hand.

The symptoms are felt over the ‘thumb side’ of the hand- i.e. the thumb, index, middle finger and thumb side of the ring finger.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made from your doctor taking a history and examining your hand. Occasionally Nerve Conduction Studies are required to help make the diagnosis.

Treatment

There are a number of different treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Splint- this can be useful in treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome in some patients.
  • Injections- these can be useful in reducing the swelling around the nerve. However this is usually not a permanent solution to the problem and symptoms can recur.
  • Carpal Tunnel decompression surgery -this is a minor operation, done under local anesthetic as a day case procedure. It involves ‘numbing up the skin’ with local anaesthetic and releasing the tight ligament compressing the nerve. A tourniquet (tight bandage) is applied for the duration of the operation that lasts less than 10 minutes on average. The surgical incision is the closed with 4 or 5 stitches and a padded dressing is applied for 4 days. A dry dressing remains on for a total of 2 weeks, before the stitches are removed.
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