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Finger numbness, painful arm and hand weakness? Do you have carpal tunnel syndrome?

08 April 2015

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is an extremely common condition where the median nerve is compressed in the wrist. It affects mostly women and if not treated, can cause permanent nerve damage and weakness in the hands. The incidence is higher with increasing age, obesity, diabetes, strenuous and repetitive tasks, use of power tools and can also be due to family history and genetics.

It is not clear why but CTS is common during pregnancy. However, many cases resolve after the baby is born. It is not yet known whether women who have CTS during pregnancy are at greater risk of developing the condition in later life.

Symptoms

Night-time tingling and numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers are all classic symptoms of CTS and many patients find temporary relief by shaking their hands or hanging them over the edge of the bed. Symptoms can also occur during the day while driving, holding a phone or a book. In severe cases, patients can experience weakness in the hands and poor grip strength which is due to the wasting of the small hand muscles.

Diagnosis

The clinical diagnosis depends both on the skill of the doctor listening to the patient’s story and their examination. Sometimes further investigations such as a nerve conduction study and a MRI scan are required to exclude other conditions which have similar symptoms such as nerve compression in the neck from arthritis or a disc prolapse.

Treatment

Patients experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their GP for advice. The initial treatment can involve wearing a wrist splint at night and a steroid injection which usually leads to short-term relief. Surgery may be required when all the non-invasive measures have failed to improve a patient’s symptoms. Surgery is carried out under local anaesthetic, takes approximately 12 minutes and has a very high success rate. The procedure involves releasing the tunnel through which the median nerve travels at the front of the wrist, providing more space for the nerve.

Miss Ladan Hajipour is a Consultant Orthopaedic Hand and Wrist Surgeon at The Wilmslow Hospital, 52 Alderley Road. She specialises in orthopaedic hand and wrist injuries both in adults and children, and adult conditions such as arthritis of the fingers and wrist, nerve compressions, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Ulnar Nerve Neuropathies, wrist pain and instability. She works closely with a team of Physiotherapists and Hand therapists to ensure patients have a good recovery following their treatment.

For more information or to book a consultation with Miss Ladan Hajipour please call 01625 545 036.

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