Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
To quote the BUPA website, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is described as:
“… a relatively common condition that causes pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers.
Having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome myself, I can say that this is something that started out as a mild irritation and developed into something that forced me into making a number of lifestyle changes as the condition became more severe. It started off with a simple tingling sensation in my index finger while typing, and it gradually became painful to the point where I couldn’t type for more than a few seconds at a time. Typically CTS will affect the thumb and index/middle fingers as per the above diagram. CTS symptoms are described as pins and needles or tingling of the affected fingers, weakness of the fingers or thumb and sometimes pain or a dull ache.
What causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Within your wrist you have a narrow passage made up of small bones and a tough band of tissue, called the Carpal Tunnel. The symptoms of CTS are caused by compression of the median nerve that runs through this passage.
Although the reasons for the nerve becoming compressed are unknown, your susceptibility increases if:
- You have a family history of CTS
- You have had an injury to your wrist
- If you have been pregnant (approx 50% of pregnant women develop the condition)
- You perform regular strenuous/repetitive work with your hands
- You have other health conditions such as diabetes or arthritis
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It has been said that most cases of CTS will disappear on their own. If symptoms continue you should see your GP and they may offer advice around how to rest your wrists to allow them to recover, and how to make simple lifestyle changes such as your wrist position while typing/driving etc. For pregnant women, typically the symptoms will improve within several months of the baby being born.
If symptoms become worse, you can opt for non-surgical treatments such as the use of wrist splints and injections. For very severe cases surgery is available which can provide instant relief for most, however a rest period is required. The surgery used to be quite invasive and would leave quite long scars on the patients wrist, however there are now other methods which only involve 2 small holes. The additional benefit to this is a quicker recovery time.