Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which one of the main nerves to the hand, the median nerve, becomes compressed or ‘trapped’ as it runs under one of the thick wrist ligaments, known as the transverse carpal ligament or flexor retinaculum. This causes tingling and numbness in the hand, usually worse during the night, and in its later stages can cause weakness of the thumb and loss of sensation in the hand.

Although there is no identifiable cause in the majority of patients, it is relatively common particularly in patients with diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and arthritis.

In its early stages, carpal tunnel syndrome can be managed with activity modification and the use of splints. Steroid injection can give good symptomatic relief for a variable time.

Operation is considered the ‘gold standard’ treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. This operation is usually done under local anaesthesia, and involves dividing the carpal ligament through an incision at the base of the hand.