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  • Writer's pictureEdmond Ma

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Numbness and tingling into your hands? Are you waking up at night due to hand pain, continually dropping things and feeling weakness through your fingers? You may potentially have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is due to compressive forces of the carpal tunnel (a tunnel that includes muscles and nerves in your wrist). This can happen if there’s swelling of the muscles within the carpal tunnel or increased contents within the tunnel such as a ganglion. These compressive forces can lead to numbness and weakness in the fingers.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the onset of CTS including:

  • Hereditary

  • Women are more likely to develop CTS

  • Pregnancy

  • Repetitive use of the wrist

  • Repetitive prolonged positioning of the wrist

  • Other co-morbidities: diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are other conditions that may cause tingling, numbness and pins and needles in the hands, so it is important to be assessed thoroughly by a physiotherapist, neurologist or a general practitioner.

CTS commonly presents as numbness or tingling into the first 3 fingers and half of the 4th. There tends to be no mechanism of injury and develops insidiously over time. Night pain is commonly a factor due to the prolonged positioning of the wrist while asleep, which can cause people to wake up during the night because of pain, and even wake up in the morning with severe symptoms.

There are several treatment and management strategies for CTS. Conservative treatment can often be successful. This includes bracing the wrist, physiotherapy treatment, and appropriate exercise prescription. Other treatments can include cortisone injections or oral glucocorticoids when warranted to assist with reducing inflammation. Severe CTS if unsuccessful with conservative treatment may seek a specialist opinion on surgical decompression.

Please seek advice from your local GP, or physiotherapist for individualized treatment plans!

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