Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What are the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by numbness in the fingers. The thumb, index and middle fingers are most commonly affected. In mild cases, the numbness is occasional. In more severe cases, the numbness can become constant. Some patients also experience pain and burning in these fingers. The muscles of the thumb may also be affected resulting in hand weakness or cramping.

What causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The nerve, which supplies sensation to the thumb, index and middle fingers is called the Median Nerve. This nerve passes through a tunnel (the carpal tunnel) as it moves from the forearm into the hand. Sometimes the space within this tunnel can become tight, placing too much pressure on the nerve. The roof of this tunnel is called the transverse carpal ligament.

What is the treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The first line of treatment is a wrist splint. The splint places the wrist in a position that decreases pressure on the nerve. The splint can also be worn at times during the day if needed. A short course of anti-inflammatory medications can also be tried.

If your symptoms do not improve than a carpal tunnel release surgery might be considered.

How is a carpal tunnel release performed?

A small incision is made on the palm of the hand. Through this incision the transverse carpal ligament is divided. This relieves pressure on the median nerve. The skin incision is sutured with a few nylon stitches, and a splint is applied.

What are the results of a carpal tunnel release?

Most patients who have a carpal tunnel release will have a complete recovery and regain feeling in the fingers. Usually normal feeling will recover within a day or two after the surgery. In more severe cases it may take up to six months for full recovery. In rare situations, if the carpal tunnel was severe and present for a long time the nerve damage may become permanent and not able to be improved by surgery.