Carpal Tunnel

What is Carpal Tunnel?

In the wrist, there's a tunnel formed by the strong tissue through which the tendons of the hand and the median nerve pass. It's a tight squeeze, so anything that reduces the space in the tunnel, such as fluid or inflammation of the tendon coatings, exerts pressure on this nerve.

When the nerve is compressed, people suffer discomfort, numbness, pins and needles, and sometimes, pain in the thumb, index, middle, and side of the ring finger, next to the middle finger.

This is where the median nerve endings are distributed. Tingling often wakes sufferers up at night; when vigorously shaking the hands and arms is what brings relief. Men will also describe dropping things, or being clumsy with simple, but fiddly tasks, such as fitting a plug, for example.

Reducing your risk

Prevention is better than a cure, so avoidance of repetitive actions, and taking regular breaks from the activity is essential. If at a computer keyboard, use a suitable wrist support, and make sure the workstation is correctly positioned. Also, check the chair is at the right height.

Anti-inflammatory medicines will relieve the symptoms, and often, experts will recommend the use of wrist splints. If this isn't improving the situation, then steroid injections, or a minor operation to release the nerve compression, is performed.