Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when a nerve between the lower arm and hand is compressed in the
wrist. This nerve space is known as the carpal tunnel. It usually presents as pain, numbness and/or tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and the thumb side of the ring finger. It is the most common neuropathy due to nerve entrapment.
Tingling and numbness in fingers or palm of hand
Pins and needles in thumb or index and middle fingers
More painful at night
Sensation of pain, aching or burning in the hands
Hand weakness or cramps
Loss of hand and grip strength over time (in absence of treatment)
Longer-term the thumb muscles can reduce in size
Anything that causes swelling inside the tunnel can cause carpal tunnel pain but is often caused by repetitive hand movements, pregnancy and arthritis. The size of the carpal tunnel can be influenced by genetics; and may be more likely if your parents had carpal tunnel syndrome. Work and activity such as typing on a computer keyboard, using vibrating equipment for extended periods of time, or requiring a strong grip for a long time.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be successfully treated using radial shockwaves which use repetitive stimulation to the area to promote healing; leading to a reduction in swelling and pain.
Patients typically see a gradual decrease in their symptoms over a period of weeks post treatment.
We usually require an x-ray to have been performed prior to treatment. This is to check that there are no other bony or soft tissue problems that may be causing the pain.
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The carpal tunnel protects structures such as the median nerve and tendons as they traverse up and down from the hand. A large band of strong ligaments called the Transverse carpal ligaments stretches across the palm of the hand attaching at the carpal bones either side of the palm.
If swelling occurs within the tunnel the median nerve can become compressed e.g after injury, after repeated stress.
Anything that causes swelling inside the tunnel can cause carpal tunnel syndrome but is often caused by repetitive hand movements, pregnancy and arthritis. Heredity and size of the tunnel are also factors.
Approximately 5% of the adult population have carpal tunnel syndrome, increasing to up to 15% depending on work type and age. It is most commonly seen between the mid-30s and 60 years of age, and is more common in women.