Carpal tunnel syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms that result from compression of the median nerve. The median nerve originates from the brachial plexus and runs down the arm, forearm and enters the hand through the carpal tunnel. The median nerve provides sensation to your thumb, index finger, middle finger and part of the ring finger. It also supplies the muscles of the thumb.
What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is idiopathic. The other causes include:
- Previous wrist fracture such as Colle’s fracture
- Soft tissue abnormalities such as lipomas and ganglions
- Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout
- Renal failure
- Neuropathic conditions such as diabetes mellitus and alcoholism.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The symptoms include:
- Numbness, pain, tingling sensation of the thumb, index, middle and part of the ring finger. This is worse at night and after activity.
- Weakness in the muscles of the hand.
How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?
CTS is diagnosed by nerve conduction studies. This test will help to rule out any proximal lesions as well as helps to determine the severity of the lesion.
What is the treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome?
CTS can be treated either non-surgically or surgically. The non-surgical treatment of CTS includes:
- Treatment of the underlying cause
- Splinting of the wrist in a neutral position, especially at night. This will help to relieve the pain by reducing the movements that increase the pain.
- Local steroid injections will help to reduce the edema as well as the inflammation.
Surgical treatment of CTS includes carpal tunnel decompression where the connective tissue that overlies the carpal tunnel (i.e. the flexor retinaculum) is divided to release the compression on the median nerve.