Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Nerve Compression Conditions Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Nerves are very sensitive anatomical structures. They don’t like to be compressed and will not work optimally in these circumstances. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most common compression neuropathy, meaning that a nerve fails to function as a result of compression. The median nerve crosses the wrist in a tunnel with nine other tendons. These tendons are surrounded by a thick synovial membrane that facilitates easy gliding between the tendons, provides nutrition to the tendons and allows the median nerve to move up and down in the tunnel, depending on the movement of the wrist.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is most frequently seen in females (70%) after the age of 50. Most of these cases are idiopathic, meaning that there is no obvious known cause for it. Conditions such as obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, hypothyroidism and pregnancy are commonly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

What are the related symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are a combination of pain, numbness and weakness of the hand which are expressed differently in all patients. These symptoms are directly related to the external pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve supplies the sensation of the thumb, index finger, middle finger and thumb side of the ring finger. Therefore, it is easy to understand that symptoms tend to be in these fingers, although it is commonly clouded. Numbness, pins and needles and pain are experienced in these fingers and expressed differently even in the right and left hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is known to give night symptoms or discomfort. Advanced cases also present with weak muscle function as a result of the weakening of the hand muscles of the thumb that are supplied by the median nerve. Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include burning or tingling in your palm and thumb, a shock-like feeling which moves into your fingers and tingling that moves up your arm.

How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?

Dr van der Spuy may recommend conservative treatment for this common condition are anti-inflammatories and night splinting to keep the wrist in a neutral position, thereby reducing pressure on the nerve, as well as corticosteroid injections. Corticosteroid injections have good short term results and are a good predictor of a successful surgical outcome if it has worked well.

Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is a very common procedure that has a good predictable outcome and brings great relief of night symptoms immediately after the operation. Nerve function can be expected to return to normal only after 3- 12 months, especially if the carpal tunnel syndrome was long-standing.

The hand surgeon releases the transverse carpal fascia, which is the roof of the carpal tunnel. The skin incision, which is closed with nylon sutures, takes about two weeks to heal, and patients can expect to have weaker grip strength for about six months after the carpal tunnel surgery.

It's important to consult with our qualified healthcare professionals to ensure the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan for your specific situation.