Treatment for signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel treatment is relatively common following signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) such as tingling, numbness and pain in the hand and fingers caused by a trapped nerve in the wrist.

What are the signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The tendons you use to flex your fingers and thumbs pass through your carpal tunnel, along with the median nerve which supplies feeling and controls muscles in your hand and thumb. If this nerve comes under pressure and is compressed, it may lead to:

  • Aches or pains in your fingers, hand or arm
  • Loss of sensation (numbness) in your fingers and hand, which may cause poor awareness of hot and cold temperatures
  • Pins and needles, burning or tingling sensations in your hand, thumb and index, middle and half of the ring fingers
  • A weak thumb or difficulty gripping
  • Stiffness and cramping in your hands first thing in the morning
  • Pain and discomfort in the palm of your hand, thumb and fingers

I have a question about carpal tunnel treatment

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a relatively common condition that can cause tingling, numbness and pain in the hand, thumb and fingers.

The condition is more common in patients who perform repetitive tasks with the hand and wrist such as computer use and, while you’re more likely to suffer as you get older, it can occur at any age and in one or both hands.

What are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes numbness, weakness, a tingling sensation, or sometimes pain in the arm, hand and fingers, usually affecting the thumb, index finger and middle finger. These symptoms usually start gradually, so early signs of carpal tunnel aren’t always picked up, and are often worse at night, sometimes interrupting sleep.

Carpal tunnel symptoms include:

  • Aches or pains in your fingers, hand or arm
  • Loss of sensation (numbness) in your fingers and hand, which may make you less sensitive to touch (hypoesthesia) and cause poor awareness of hot and cold temperatures
  • Pins and needles, burning or prickling sensations (paraesthesia) in your hand, thumb and index, middle and half of the ring fingers
  • Dry skin, swelling or changes in skin colour of the hand
  • A weak thumb or difficulty gripping and wasting away (atrophy) of the muscles at the base of the thumb

Stiffness and cramping in your hands first thing in the morning

What causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the front of the wrist becomes trapped within the carpal tunnel; the canal in the wrist which carries the hand tendons used to flex your fingers and thumb.

As the median nerve controls movement and sensation in the hand, when squeezed it causes weakness, pins and needles or pain in the hand and fingers.

In most cases the causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome aren’t clear. There are several factors that increase the likelihood of contracting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These include:

  • Pregnancy (around 50% of pregnant women develop the condition caused by fluid retention)
  • Injury to the wrist that narrows the carpal tunnel
  • Repetitive or strenuous work involving the hands
  • Working with vibrating machinery
  • Arthritis

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome diagnosed?

Your GP can usually diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by examining your hand and wrist and discussing your symptoms.

You may need further tests to determine the severity of the condition. For example, you may undergo a nerve conduction test which measures how fast signals travel through your nerves and can determine whether there is any damage to your nerves. You may also have an ultrasound scan which produces an image of the nerve itself which can help to determine the correct course of treatment.

A blood test may be suggested to rule out any underlying causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

What is treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome sometimes clears up by itself in a few months, particularly if you have it because you're pregnant.

If your symptoms are mild, wearing a wrist support or splint at night can often help to keep your wrist straight and relieve pressure on the nerve. You may want to consider hand and wrist supports as part of computer work. A steroid injection near the carpal tunnel can also reduce your numbness or pain.

If your symptoms are severe, or other carpal tunnel treatments haven’t worked for you, your GP can refer you to one of our Orthopaedic Consultants - or you can contact us direct. We’ll discuss your symptoms and medical history so that we can advise on the best treatment for you. Your Consultant may suggest you have carpal tunnel surgery to reduce the pain and some of the symptoms.

What happens during treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel treatment will help relieve your symptoms by reducing the pressure on your median nerve. A small incision is made at the front of the wrist, the ligament on top of the nerve is cut and the skin closed.

What should I expect after treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

After your carpal tunnel treatment, you’ll be given all the information you need to return home safely and in comfort. We will tell you who to contact if you have further concerns.

Once you’re home, you must keep your hand elevated for at least for two to three days. You can use your hand and finger to handle things that are light and easy, provided there’s no pain or discomfort, but do it gradually. Move all fingers, elbow and your shoulder in their full range of motion several times during the day to prevent stiffness and swelling and development of scar tissue which has attached to the tendon.

We’d recommend that you avoid using your hand and wrist for any strenuous or heavy activities for at least six weeks after surgery, until you’ve completely recovered.

You shouldn’t drive after your surgery until your hand is working properly again. It may be a good idea to wait until the wound has healed and the stitches can be removed.

How much does treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome cost?

Get in touch using our online enquiry form or call our Private Patient Team now on 01580 363158 for more details.

Our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons

Mr James

Christopher James

Orthopaedic and trauma consultant

Mr James' specialties include hand and wrist surgery, both open and arthroscopic procedures.

Mr Thakral

Hemant Thakral

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Thakral's specialties include shoulder arthroscopic surgery, complex joint replacements for arthritis and trauma.

Contact us about carpal tunnel treatment

It's easy to find out more about treatment by giving us a call or completing our enquiry form.