Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) (pressure on the median nerve)
- The median nerve is one of the nerves which supplies the hand.
- It passes through wrist in a narrow channel (carpal tunnel, CT) along with flexor tendons.
- Inflammation of the muscle/tendons/fractured wrist can reduce the space in the carpal tunnel which causes pressure on the nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a lack of room in the carpal tunnel, any swelling around it can compress the median nerve, causing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeated activities requiring wrist movements can lead to inflamed tendons – these movements may be related to your job or hobby, such as typing or manufacturing work, also known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). People who use vibrating tools are particularly at risk. The condition is more likely to develop if you have suffered previous trauma to the wrist, such as spraining or previous breaks, the carpal tunnel may also be compressed through rheumatoid arthritis.
Another cause is pressure within the tunnel due to fluid retention. This can happen if you have kidney failure, have an under active thyroid, or are pregnant. It can be caused by changes to the median nerve itself, too – diabetes or drink excessive amounts of alcohol. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also more common in people who are very overweight, in women who are taking the contraceptive pill, and during the menopause.
A dull ache in the wrist and forearm with pain radiating to the fingers, burning wrist pain with numbness/loss of feeling in the thumb, index and middle finger which the median nerve supplies. The pain is often worse at night (following a day of use). Positive result for Tinel’s sign – performed by compressing the median nerve to elicit a sensation of tingling or “pins and needles” in the distribution of the nerve.
- Plenty of rest
- If ther is a repetitive cause try and eliminate – i.e. change your workstation or mouse if at a desk or adjust your repetitive activities
- See a doctor/physiotherapist
- Wear a heat retainer or wrist support with a splint to prevent movement allowing rest