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Updated on September 5, 2019

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the most common nerve compression syndrome whereby the nerve is vulnerable to compression injury.

The median nerve is compressed by swollen synovium of the flexor muscle-tendon against the inelastic transverse carpal ligament. It affects 1-5% of the general population.

Image source: Anatomy Note

Symptoms

  • Numbness or ‘pins & needles’
  • Discomfort and/or pain (especially at night)
  • Weakness or stiffness
  • Impaired hand function with muscle atrophy
  • Permanent disability if left untreated

Causes and risk factors for CTS

  • Repetitive trauma (from overuse)
  • Oedema or water retention (from pregnancy, tissue injury or heart failure)
  • Fracture or dislocation of the wrist
  • Small carpal tunnel size (genetic)
  • Systemic diseases (arthritis, thyroid disorder, amyloid, diabetes)
  • Female or menopause
  • Obesity

Prevention and Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Avoid repetitive movements of the hands that are forceful, awkward and which involve pinching, grasping or extreme flexion or extension of the wrist. If repetition task is unavoidable, keep the wrist straight or slightly extended when the hands are in motion.

Maintain good posture, keep hands and arms warm and take sufficient time to rest throughout the day. Never continue an activity which causes pain. Avoid high salt intake which can cause water retention or smoking which reduces blood flow.

Managing CTS

CTS is most manageable when diagnosed early because its effect can cause irreversible nerve damage if left too late. The goal of managing CTS is to decrease the pressure on the median nerve. Crucial to the successful healing of CTS is a highly motivated patient willing to modify the lifestyle and avoid repetitive stress on the hands.

Non-Operative Measures

  • The following methods can help reduce oedema and inflammation of the tissues
  • Rest your hands
  • Wear a wrist splint
  • Modify hand activity or work environment
  • Treat the underlying systemic disease
  • Anti-inflammatory medication or diuretics
  • Steroid injections

Surgery

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the median nerve.


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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contain general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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