Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common cause of wrist and hand pain.  It is caused by swelling in the wrist in the area where blood vessels and nerves pass on their way to the hand from the forearm.  Compression of one of these nerves (the median nerve) causes altered sensation in the wrist and fingers nearest the thumb as well as the thumb itself.  Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain in the hand and wrist with pins and needles; burning, tingling or numbness in the hand; and symptoms are often worse at night.  

The onset of carpal tunnel syndrome often relates to problems which cause increased fluid pressure around the wrist and these might be; late stages of pregnancy; increase in weight after a fracture of the forearm; and repetitive activities such as typing, hammering, or gripping a racket.

There are some self help measures which can be helpful and these include; the use of a night splint; the application of cold therapy over the affected area; reduction in the irritant activities; and weight loss when it is appropriate.

When the pain is severe non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs prescribed by a doctor could be helpful and in more long standing cases steroid injection, as given by Dr Simon Harley at Andrew Gilmour and Associates, can be effective.  As a last resort the carpal tunnel may need to be decompressed.  If this is necessary we are able to refer you to an upper limb surgeon.  

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