Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In carpal tunnel syndrome the median nerve – one of the main nerves supplying the hand – is compressed. This causes pain, tingling and numbness in the fingers and occasionally weakness of the muscles at the base of the thumb. While there is usually no specific cause identified, there are a few conditions, such as pregnancy, which can bring on the problem
In mild and very early stages, the condition can be managed conservatively with splinting, holding the wrist in a position where the nerve is under less pressure. Carpal tunnel syndrome will often come to require surgery.
Often carpal tunnel syndrome will be obvious but in some cases nerve conduction studies or imaging such as ultrasound or MRI scans may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
The procedure involves releasing the pressure on the nerve by dividing the tight band lying above it – the transverse carpal ligament (see picture). Carpal tunnel release can be done in a standard open fashion or with keyhole endoscopic surgery. The eventual results are the same, but endoscopic surgery can have faster recovery times and less scarring.